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Animal communication

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Ethology. A range of animal behaviours Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait.[1] Behaviourism is a term that also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, but it usually refers to the study of trained behavioural responses in a laboratory context, and without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity.


Many naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour throughout history. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century, including Charles O. Interspecies communication. Interspecies communication is communication between different species of animals, plants, fungi or bacteria.

Interspecies communication

Interspecies communication research in the sciences and the arts has produced results, giving hope that we may someday be able to communicate with certain animals on an advanced level. Recent research with Kanzi a bonobo at the University of Georgia represents a successful experiment where (1) the bonobo learned symbols and is successfully communicating with its trainers Jared Taglialatela, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh and Lauren Baker. Their work is contributing to a now larger series of research studies that language is an evolutionary trait that evolved in our non-human primates. Mutualism[edit] Whether heterospecific understanding is a learned behavior or not is also of interest. Parasitic communication and eavesdropping[edit] Unlike cooperative communication, parasitic communication involves an unequal sharing of information (parasitism). Animal communication. Metacommunications are signals that modify the meaning of subsequent signals.

Animal communication

One example is the 'play face' and tail signals in dogs, which indicate that a subsequent aggressive signal is part of a play fight rather than a serious aggressive episode. Animal cognition. Animal cognition is the study of the mental capacities of animals.

Animal cognition

It has developed out of comparative psychology, including the study of animal conditioning and learning, but has also been strongly influenced by research in ethology, behavioral ecology, and evolutionary psychology. The alternative name cognitive ethology is therefore sometimes used; much of what used to be considered under the title of animal intelligence is now thought of under this heading.[1] Research has examined animal cognition in mammals (especially primates, cetaceans, elephants, dogs, cats, horses,[2][3] raccoons and rodents), birds (including parrots, corvids and pigeons), reptiles (lizards and snakes), fish and invertebrates (including cephalopods, spiders and insects).[1] Historical background[edit] Animal cognition from anecdote to laboratory[edit] The behavioristic half-century[edit] The work of Thorndike, Pavlov and a little later of the outspoken behaviorist John B.

The cognitive revolution[edit] Emotion in animals. The possibility that animals feel emotions is denied by people following a behaviourist approach which asks the following question: Why should humans postulate consciousness and all its near-human implications in animals to explain some behaviour, if mere stimulus–response is a sufficient explanation to produce the same effects?

Emotion in animals

The ability of animals to feel emotions is also criticised on the basis that emotions aren't universal, including in humans, that interpretations of animal behaviour are anthropomorphic, and that definitions lack robustness. Charles Darwin was one of the first scientists to write about the possibility of animals experiencing emotions. This anecdotal approach has developed into a more robust, hypothesis-driven, scientific approach. Several tests such as cognitive bias tests and learned helplessness models have been developed. Animal culture. Animal culture describes the current theory of cultural learning in non-human animals through socially transmitted behaviors.

Animal culture

The question as to the existence of culture in non-human societies has been a contentious subject for decades, much due to the inexistence of a concise definition for culture. However, many leading scientists agree on culture being defined as a process, rather than an end product. This process, most agree, involves the social transmittance of a novel behavior, both among peers and between generations.[1] This behavior is shared by a group of animals, but not necessarily between separate groups of the same species. The notion of culture in animals dates back to Aristotle and Darwin, but the association of animals' actions with the actual word "culture" first was brought forward with Japanese primatologists' discoveries of socially transmitted food behaviors in the 1940s.[2] What is culture? Organizational culture[edit] Cultural sociology[edit]

Animal sexual behaviour. Animal sexual behaviour takes many different forms, even within the same species.

Animal sexual behaviour

Among animals, researchers have observed monogamy, promiscuity, sex between species, sexual arousal from objects or places, sex apparently via duress or coercion, copulation with dead animals, homosexual sexual behaviour, heterosexual, bisexual sexual behaviour, situational sexual behaviour, and a range of other practices. When animal sexual behaviour is reproductively-driven, it is often termed mating or copulation; for most non-human mammals, mating and copulation occur at the point of estrus (the most fertile period of time in the female's reproductive cycle), which increases the chances of successful impregnation.[1][2] However, the study of animal sexuality (especially that of primates) is a rapidly developing field. Mating systems[edit] General[edit] The following are some of the mating systems generally recognised in humans and other animals: Monogamy[edit] Sexual monogamy is also rare among animals.