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What is behavioural ecology?

The study of how an animal's behaviour advances its chances of survival and increases reproductive success


What are the three principles of survival of the fittest according to Darwin?

1. There are limited resources and competition for these resources - population will expand until resources are scarce

2. Individuals best suited to their environment will get resources more successfully and tend to survive

3. More successful individuals will pass on characteristics to offspring - traits which confers reproductive success will be more represented in later generations


How many copies of each chromosome do adult humans carry?

Two versions of each chromosome


What is an allele?

One of two or more alternative forms of a gene that arise by mutation and are found at the same place on a chromosome. Basically, alleles are genes. Each trait has two alleles. You get 1 allele from your mummy and 1 allele from your daddy.


What is the difference between homozygous and heterozygous genes?

Homozygous genes consist of identical alleles on the two chromosomes

Heterozygous genes consist of different alleles (one dominant, one recessive) on the two chromosomes


What is the difference between genotype and phenotype?

Genotype - the genetic constitution of an individual organism. The actual genetic code.

Phenotype - physical manifestation of genetic code. The set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.


Would identical twins have identical genotype and phenotype?

No, dumb-ass, just identical genotype.


What is the assumption of evolutionary psychobiology?

That some genes will influence behaviour in ways that tend to ensure their reproductive success/fitness. I.e. Genes for aggression, infidelity, jealousy, parenting - assuming such exist


How did a study of deer mice prove the existence of Species-Specific Defense Responses (SSDR)?

Deer mice on Oregon side of Rocky Mountains - main predator is ferret

Deer mice on Wyoming side of Rocky Mountains - main predator is snake

Wyoming side mice would freeze when see/smell snake; Oregon side mice would freeze when see/smell ferret. Both mice bred in laboratory.

If placed with predator from other side of Rockys, mouse would be eaten.

Instinctual response with evolutionary function. Predation stamps into the genetic code specific defense responses to specific stimuli -> SSDR


How is the gene for attached/hanging earlobes passed down?

75% of people have hanging earlobe – dominant allele produces hanging phenotype


What is an autosome?

Any chromosome that is not a sex chromosome


What is an autosomal dominant trait?

An autosomal dominant trait results when the allele combination is AA or Aa.


What is an autosomal recessive trait?

An autosomal recessive trait results when the combination of alleles is aa.


What's an example of an autosomal recessive trait?

Albinism is an autosomal recessive trait. That means if a person has two recessive alleles (aa), then that person WILL be an albino. But if the person has an A, that person will be normally pigmented.


How did Tryon (1940) attempt to genetically select for brightness and dullness in rats?

Make rats run maze - breed together over several generations those with lots of errors and those with few errors. Successfully bred strains of bright and dumb rats -> eugenics.


What is the difference between eugenics and natural selection?

Eugenics is breeding based on (arbitrary) artificial standards of fitness. We don't have a clear idea of what fitness is according to natural selection. Natural selection is happening anyway.


What is the expensive tissue hypothesis?

Having a big brain uses a lot of energy, which must be coming at the expense of something else, usually a smaller digestive tract. Eg. Guppies - female guppies bred to have large brains have smaller stomachs. Brain can increase only to certain size before having negative effects.


How do guppies contradict eugenicists?

Guppies with larger brains tend to invest less biological resources in their reproductive system and produce fewer offspring. Thus breeding for intelligence does not appear to be following a natural law, or actually increasing fitness.


What did Darwin say of the difference in mental faculties between man and other animals?

It's a difference of degree, rather than kind.


How can kamikaze instinct of honey bees be passed on, given that having the instinct ensures you die?

All worker bees are similar genetically - all sisters. By helping sisters, they help the survival of the shared genome.


What is the Selfish Gene hypothesis?

That the genotype is important, not the individual who carries it. It follows that the more two individuals are genetically related, the more sense (at the level of the genes) it makes for them to behave selflessly with each other.


What are the four outcomes of interactions between animals based on fitness?

INITIATOR BENEFIT reciprocity selfishness
COST altruism spite


What are the conditions of reciprocal altruism?

1. There must be a reasonable chance of receiving reciprocation

2. Initiator must be able to delay immediate gratification

3. Low cost to donor and high benefit to recipient (basis of economic trade - exchange of surpluses)

4. Must be able to remember and punish cheaters


What did Fehr & Rockenbach (2004) demonstrate about cheating?

That punishment reduces cheating - those not contributing to the public good. And people punish those who fail to punish.

In the experiment, people played game in which they contributed percentage of their money to the public good. Contribution started at 50% then decreased to after 10 periods. Then Pps are given the possibility of reducing the other subjects’ income at their own cost after having seen the others’ contribution to the public good. These punishment possibilities are heavily used, and the lower an individual’s contribution relative to the group average, the more the individual is punished. As a result, a large increase in cooperation is observed, almost to 100%.


How does humans' ability to defer gratification for future reward compare to that of other species?

We're much better at it. Rats and pigeons devalue reward over time much more than humans.


Is sense of fairness restricted to humans?

No, also represented in primates (eg. capuchin monkeys - grape vs cucumber example) and dogs (dry biscuit vs sausage)


What does the Wason Selection Task show about human problem solving?

The abstract version is harder than the social version. This proves our problem solving ability is greater for solving social problems.


What is an ethogram?

A catalogue of all the different kinds of behaviour observed in an animal


What is the social theory of intellect?

Our intellectual ability has derived from understanding hierarchical and rule structures of society.


If people asked to analyse the Wason Selection Task in two contexts
1. describing the rules of a social contract
2. being asked to detect cheating
in which condition would they be more likely to solve the WST?

Much more likely to solve the WST if it is presented as a test to detect cheating