Biological Basis of Behavior

IMPORTANT: If you have not already done so, read the Syllabus, Class page and complete the Student Profile/Agreement
We see numerous examples of behavior every day: our friends, dogs, birds, fish, insects, etc. As we participate in various behaviors, we feel that we are making conscious decisions about what to do.


In this module we will try to determine if there could be some behaviors that are built into an animal's biology. In particular, we will look for:

  1. Patterns - a behavior which is shared among groups of individuals
  2. Mechanisms - a cause of the behavior
  3. Adaptations - ways in which the behavior contributes to the animal's success

We will follow the scientific process in evaluating the evidence we find.

An animal is considered biologically successful if its behavior results in the survival and reproduction of other individuals possessing the same genes as it does. This kind of success most often involves producing offspring oneself. It could also result from promoting the survival of close relatives. A common example is worker bees and ants which do not themselves reproduce but contribute to the survival of their sisters.

As you read the papers on electronic reserve, be particularly attentive to:

After completing this module, you should be able to:

To complete this module, you should:

Reasons to study these topics:

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