Lecture 2: Veterinary Ethology and Behavioral Research (Curtis) Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Lecture 2: Veterinary Ethology and Behavioral Research (Curtis) Deck (28):


The study of what animals do and how and why they do it; scientific study of animal behavior, especially as it occurs in a natural environment.


"ethos" means:

custom, character, manner, behavior


"logos" means:

a description of ethos


Tinbergen's 4 questions for behavior (4 primary perspectives from which to examine a specific behavior)

1) How does it work? (causation, control, underlying stimuli or mechanisms of action, etc.)
2) How did it develop? (what internal or external factors influence the way in which behavior develops during the lifetime of the animal?)
3) What is it for? (how does the behavior facilitate the animal's survival or otherwise benefit the individual?)
4) How did the behavior evolve? (how did the behavior arise during the evolutionary history of the species?)


3 1973 Nobel laureates for the science of animal behavior

Lorenz, Frisch, Tinbergen


Canine Signaling

A system of signals which facilitates the maintenance of organization with minimal overt aggression. Aka "ritual signals"


What 2 organizations formed joint guidelines for the use of animals in research in 1992?

1) Association for the Study of Animal Behavior (UK) via the Ethical Committee
2) Animal Behavior Society (USA) via the Animal Care Committee


According to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, more animal suffering is allowed if:

research quality is high (however only to a certain point))


stepwise method of studying behavior (8 steps)

1) ask a simple question
2) make preliminary observations and formulate hypotheses
3) have provisional and testable explanations for observed phenomena
4) make predictions from the hypotheses
5) identify which behavioral variables need to be measured in order to test these predictions
6) choose suitable recording methods for measuring these behavioral variables
7) collect sufficient data
8) use appropriate statistics


Sign of a clear hypothesis when studying behavior

it should give rise to one or more specific predictions that can be tested empirically


Empirical description of behavior involves:

-first hand description
-reliance on observation or experiment


2 ways to describe behavior

1) empirical
2) technology


What is an "event" as it relates to behavior patterns?

A behavior pattern of relatively short duration, such as discrete body movements or vocalizations, which can be approximated as points in time.


What is the most important feature of an "event"?

its frequency of occurence


What is a "state"?

a behavior pattern of relatively long duration, such as prolonged activities, body postures, or proximity measures.


Most important feature of "states"




proportion of time spent performing an activity; the length of time for which a single occurrence of the behavior pattern lasts. Measured in units of time.



time from some specified event to the onset of the first occurence of the behavior. Measured in units of time



the number of occurences of the behavior per unit time. Measured in reciprocal units of time


ad libitum sampling method. What is its disadvantage?

observe an animal and make general notes about what it is doing, or what it is doing of interest. Starting point for planning better measurements.

Disadvantage = can't make statements about whether or not the behavior is increasing, decreasing, or changing in form


Focal sampling method.

observe one animal (or a pair of 2) for a fixed amt. of time. Make continuous record w/n that time of all behaviors that you are recording. Get sequence, frequency, and duration of the behavior


Point or Instantaneous Sampling Method. Disadvantages?

-record what animal is doing at predetermined times
-divide observation session into short intervals
-use countdown timer that signals the sample time

Disadvantages: no frequency or rate information, less accurate than focal


All Occurrences Sampling Method

-Record all occurrences of one or a small # of behaviors and ignore all others
-used w/ large groups in which you want to assess occurrence of a small # of very obvious behaviors


2 types of reliability measures

1) intra-observer (is one observer consistent in measurements over time?)
2) inter-observer (are 2 or more observers consistent with each other in how they measure over time?)


Complete vs. Practical Ethogram. Which is used more often?

Complete: list of all behaviors exhibited by a species
Practical: list of all behaviors of interest that you are researching

Practical used more often


Displaced behavior

an inappropriate behavior which occurs when an animal is experiencing conflict b/w 2 opposing drives


Vacuum activity

instinctive behavior performed in the absence of the stimulus to which it would normally be directed. Has no apparent useful purpose

i.e. air-sucking, flank sucking, licking


Redirected behavior

An interrupted/prevented motivation to perform an activity towards an appropriate target, resulting in the behavior being directed toward a less appropriate target.

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