Introduction to Physical Anthropology
Quiz 7 :
Behavioral ecology is the study of relationship between behavior, natural environment and physiological trait from an evolutionary point of view. Every individual within or outside a particular specie shows a varied range of behavior. The behavior ranges from affection to aggression among individual or communities. Non-primate animals such as cow, deer, rat, dog and several others show a complex range of behavior. Behavior of every individual species is influenced from its surrounding. If one notices any non-primate animals around him, he can easily find out certain animals respond to a particular stimuli in an aggressive way while some in non-aggressive way. It is not necessary that every animal responses to every stimuli. For example, dogs living in a particular region have demarcated areas. If any unfamiliar member of the specie enters their area, they show aggression and drove them off from their region. Dogs generally females, show parenting care towards their offspring. On the other hand behavior of dogs is also influenced from environment. This can be stated from the fact that those dogs which are nurtured by humans have totally different behavior from that of other dogs. They are comparatively calm in behavior. It is very hard to hypothesize the correct reason for a particular behavior shown by any animal. Though, one can predict reasons which might lead to a particular response by any animal. For example, animals tend to look at their prey very intensely. The possible hypothesis for such a behavior could be that, they want to examine their prey before they make any attack. This would reduce the amount of harm to them, if any. Every specie on earth first evolved in its wild form. With the course of time and human intellect they were domesticated by humans. A domestic animal shows certain behavioral differences when compared to its wild ancestor. It will be calmer in comparison to its wild ancestor and might show less aggressiveness in comparison to its wild ancestor. For example, a domestic animal might retreat from a fight out of fear while the fear factor in its wild ancestor might be low.
The two sexes of same species that is male and female exhibit several differences other than sexual organs, in terms of shape, size and color. This condition of exhibiting differences is known as sexual dimorphism. These differences generally include secondary sexual characteristics and behavioral differences. The process of natural selection which operates on only one of the sex within a species, as a result of competition for mating leads to sexual dimorphism. This dimorphism can be for particular trait or more. Sexual dimorphism can be easily seen in birds. Colors in male bird are essentially to attract female birds. Contrasting to this, in some species of birds, instead of female, male bird sits on the nest to warm and protect the eggs. These male birds are generally dull in color. This condition is known as sexual dichromatism. This phenomenon occurs not only because of sexual dimorphism in bird coloration but also as a process of natural selection for survival. Since these birds have to sit on the nest and protect their eggs, for that it is better that they stay hidden. The dull color allows these birds to protect themselves and their eggs from predators. In contrast, the female of the same species have colorful plumage. It is present in those birds to attract males. This helps in drawing all attention towards her, away from the nest in order to protect young ones.
The study of the relationship between behavior, natural environment and physiological trait from an ecological and evolutionary point of view is known as behavioral ecology. It is based on the assumption that all biological components of ecological system evolved together. The study signifies that the behavior has evolved through the process of natural selection in the course of time. It was speculated that genes influence the behavior of an individual but this doesn't mean that a particular gene code for a particular behavior. Behavior of an individual is a result of combined effect of genes and natural environment on him. The behavior of an individual can always be modified through learning. Primates show behavioral responses largely based on learning than as an effect of gene. However, the limits and ability to learn from the environment vary among the members of same species and is greatly affected by genes. Since humans are primate, the study of behavioral ecology of close human relative, (which are also primates) will help in understanding the human behavior to a greater extent. The study may not provide with definitive answers but it will provide a framework for postulating hypothesis based on which further research can be done.