The set of actions performed by an organism within a given environment

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48
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2answers
7k views

Do ants or other insects sleep, and if so why?

I was thinking yesterday about insects (as there was a spider in the house, and I couldn't help but think of anything else, even though they aren't insects), and I started to wonder if ants sleep? ...
19
votes
1answer
1k views

Can beavers control the direction a tree falls?

We humans can easily control the direction a tree falls by making a number of strategic cuts, essentially creating a hinge: This prevents trees from falling on equipment and people and sets them up ...
17
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1answer
240 views

How do burrowing animals get enough oxygen?

Tree borers make a small hole in a tree. At the end of it, they chew on wood to elongate the tunnel. They digest food and grow. All this takes oxygen. The entrance to the tunnel is generally small. ...
15
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1answer
748 views

Why is yawning contagious?

Why does yawning seems to be contagious? Is this similar to laughter being contagious or does it has a different reason?
12
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1answer
14k views

Why do dogs try to cover their poop?

It may seem obvious to us humans to hide our excreta, but this is not quite normal behavior for animals. Interestingly, dogs have the habit to pee all over the place. It's know that they do so to ...
12
votes
2answers
363 views

Why do crabs spit?

Last year I photographed this juvenile Sally Lightfoot Crab (Grapsus grapsus) 'spitting' (click for larger view): I thought I'd look up more information on this behavior, but couldn't find any ...
11
votes
1answer
250 views

What biological functions does crying serve?

Tears suddenly start flowing out of our eyes when we find our long lost friend or when someone unexpectedly decides to break up with us. Do tears really save us from harm? Or are they just the reflex ...
11
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1answer
331 views

Does the genetic expression of specific physical traits ever correlate to behaviour?

Over at skeptics, there were a couple questions asked as to the correlation of specific physical traits in relation to personality/behaviour. For instance, the simian line as well as red hair. Now, ...
8
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5answers
380 views

Theoretically, is domestication of (virtually) any animal possible?

Looking at ones that manage well alongside us human animals, such as dogs and cats, we see that this is possible for evolved, distant animals to have heritable, preferable traits around people. ...
8
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1answer
536 views

What is this crow eating, and is it a common part of the corvid diet?

Here's a picture (by Rob Curtis) of a crow carrying and eating the corpse of what looks a bit like a small hawk or falcon: Other pictures clearly show the crow is eating the dead bird. This image ...
8
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1answer
290 views

Why do flies fly in circles?

Lying on my bed, doing nothing I recently noticed flies usually fly in small circles, right under my ceiling lamp. Worth noting - the lamp was off as it was middle of a day. And those flies kept ...
8
votes
4answers
562 views

Why people like to see pornographic scenes, but do not feel the same about eating scenes? [closed]

This question may seem funny, but I think biology must have good answers. I think no more explanation is needed. I really thought about this and searched for an answer, but there is nothing yet. If ...
8
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2answers
192 views

Is it possible for parasitic wasp to alter the behaviour of it's host after emerging from it?

I know that parasitic wasp larvae could live for a long time inside their alive host (eg. caterpillar), but I always thought that they kill the host when they eventually get out of it. But once I've ...
8
votes
1answer
109 views

Do ant colonies prioritize survival of particular members above others?

In some (perhaps small) human communities people may starve because they have no income. This could be interpreted as a consequence of them not participating in the community, hence they don't get any ...
8
votes
2answers
192 views

How to name such grouping behaviour?

Under which keyword would you try to find out more about the grouping behaviour which looks like this? Does anybody recognizes such behaviour, or know an animal species which uses it? My tries: ...
8
votes
1answer
132 views

How well does it actually work to surgically reroute the optical nerve?

Two publications, Roe et al, 1992[1] and Metin & Frost, 1989[2], describe results pertaining to the ability of a region of cortex to process information from a different sensory mode than the one ...
8
votes
1answer
101 views

Predators faking to be not hungry?

I believe that there are predator/prey combinations where the prey can easily spot that the predator is not hungry and will not try to flee from it. I’m thinking, for example, of gazelles who will ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What “emotions” can a snake feel?

Short: Thinking in particular of a Royal Python (US: Ball Python) such as some people keep as exotic companion animals, what sorts of "emotions" or "feelings" are they capable of? Long: ...
6
votes
2answers
579 views

Goats are so fearless but sheep are not. Is there any genetic difference responsible?

As you see in the picture goats (not only wild goats) are so fearless, but I never saw any sheep do this. What is the source of this difference in behavior?
6
votes
1answer
11k views

Why can cats interpret things on a monitor/tv, but dogs cannot?

E.g. you can see a lot of videos where cats are smashing some mouse or spider on an ipad, but I have never seen it with a dog. I have a dog myself and I know that he sometimes responds to the sounds ...
6
votes
1answer
82 views

Are there any animals that gradually approaches the predator to search for food?

I was wondering if there is an animal (or insect, bird, etc.) that eventually comes close to its predator to search for food, but only does so if it couldn't find food in the environment it is in. So ...
6
votes
3answers
149 views

How do birds avoid mid-air collision?

Across from me there is a large flick of Pigeons and Ravens that like to nest on the roof. They swoop and dive and fly all over. Sometimes the whole flock lifts off at once. My question is, how do ...
5
votes
1answer
380 views

Is greed an evolved trait?

I am not a biologist, but I am fascinated by evolution. I was watching the news this morning and, as so often is the case, there was a news story about a corrupt politician who was accepting ...
5
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1answer
105 views

Could murder be modeled as an infectious disease?

Background "When swine flu hit the population it spiked in certain areas and tapered off in neighboring regions, it hits hardest where people have least protection and this pattern is more ...
5
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1answer
254 views

Why would deer continue to cross a river full of crocodiles even though some of them have been killed?

I recently watched a clip on Discovery Channel, where I saw deer crossing a river full of crocodiles, ignoring the fact that some of them would have been killed doing so. Is there a possible ...
5
votes
2answers
382 views

Do animals suffer from “Human” mental disorders?

It is tragic, but apparently Killer whales and Dolphins can commit suicide too (e.g. here)... This suggests they can become depressed. I wondered whether they were "clinically" depressed like many ...
5
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3answers
412 views

Is recognizing one's own mirror reflection a valid test of animal intelligence/self awareness?

I've been looking at this Ted talk on interspecies internet, and it appears that they have selected a small number of species of animals (dolphin, elephant, and some ape(?)) and are intent on ...
5
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1answer
197 views

Zombie Ant Fungus?

Ophiocordyceps unilateralis is a parasitoidal fungus that alters the behavior of the infected. Source: Wiki page. How is the fungus able to alter the behavior of the infected to such specfic ...
5
votes
2answers
271 views

Can animals like squirrels leave “gifts” or tribute for humans?

I've heard anecdotal reports of squirrels bringing up gifts to a person's house after that person left out food for them. Sounds bizzare and unbelievable, until I actually saw some kind of a nut right ...
5
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1answer
93 views

How are behaviors genetically coded in animals?

I am curious as to how complex behavior is passed down genetically? For example, how is the building of a web genetically coded in a spider? And how is the complex behavior of constricting prey coded ...
5
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1answer
115 views

Do any birds have established “poke a predator's eyes out” behavior?

Is there a pattern/tactics of behavior in any birds species that consists of attacking a predator's eyes with its beak? I'm looking for established tactics, not 1 or 2 anecdotal examples.
4
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1answer
190 views

Do insects respond to the detection of dead insects?

Are there insects that change their behavior upon detecting the nearby presence of other dead insects? If there are, can you provide an example?
4
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2answers
108 views

Is there any evidence of animals wanting to die?

Is there any evidence of animals wanting to die? Specifically, animal communication which says "come and eat me".
4
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1answer
273 views

How significant is the genetic component of homosexual behaviour?

From some basic googling, I found that nobody has ever proven that people are born gay and that environment plays a great part in homosexuality. I wish to know if there is a genetic component to ...
4
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1answer
69 views

How to measure trajectory regularity?

I have two animal running trajectories. A regular one with repeated back and forth running between point A and B, like the one on top in the figure. The other one is very irregular, animal paused and ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Crow branch pecking behaviour

I was walking through a small park when two crows started cawing at me, and followed me, flying from tree-to-tree as I walked. I speculate that this is a territorial or protective behaviour, but what ...
4
votes
1answer
124 views

Why do you retch when you see something disgusting?

Why do you retch when you see something disgusting? I imagine it is some sort of evolutionary response, although I can't see the connection between receiving a signal that unhealthy conditions are in ...
4
votes
0answers
29 views

How much do urban pigeons move around cities?

Do they tend to live their lives in one area of the city or do they move around? For example, do pigeons born on London's Trafalgar Square live their whole lives centered around Trafalgar Square or ...
4
votes
0answers
151 views

When birds fly in V-formation, how is it decided which bird gets to be the 'lead bird'?

I've read on Wikipedia and in other sources that the lead position alternates due to flight fatigue, but does it alternate between a small cabal of of leadership birds, or does (almost) every bird get ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

How come most animals never seem to evolve over millenia?

People often say, including those with extensive knowledge in biology, that a certain species of animal will evolve in one way or another: 1.From changing environments. 2.Mutations. 3.Possibly even ...
3
votes
1answer
158 views

Can mosquitos bite in self-defense?

When chasing away wasps or bees there is a danger of them stinging us in self-defense. Can a similar danger arise when chasing away a mosquito which is otherwise not hungry? I understand that ...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Do reptiles hunt?

I encountered the following passage in the book The Art of Interactive Design by Criss Crawford (bold formatting is mine): [...] From stalking and evasion to the chase, the [interaction between ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

Why do surface mole tunnels follow directly below the electric fenceline

I have electric fencing enclosing five acres, and moles always seem to tunnel in a straight line just under the electric fence - are they following a force field? Can that be?
3
votes
2answers
634 views

Animal altruism?

My first impression of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Za4uT1ob8qE is that the baboons were being altruistic and benevolent, but is this guess proven or affirmed by science? I sense there's more to ...
3
votes
1answer
182 views

Is there a hormone combination that makes humans grumpy?

Imagine a typical situation that is likely to give rise to a bad temper within an individual: a person is awoken very early in the morning by a sound of a lawn being mowed next door. Unlike expected ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

How is instinct carried from one generation to another?

How can non-structural information, specifically instinct (a fixed pattern of behavior that an organism reverts to as a response to certain stimuli), be passed on from generation to generation (such ...
3
votes
1answer
241 views

Why do chameleons move back and forth?

I was always curious, why do chameleons have this strange gait?
3
votes
1answer
95 views

Do “virgin” ant queens ever shed their wings?

In species that reproduce sexually, if an ant queen goes on a nuptial flight and does not successfully mate, will she still shed her wings and try to found a colony (although she probably won't ...
3
votes
2answers
107 views

Why do some animals try to imitate other animals?

There is a tendency of some animals (including people!) to be "copy-cats" and try to imitate members of their own, and sometimes other, species. The most obvious example is a parrot copying human ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

What happens to human dopaminergic reward system once a teenager becomes adult?

I've recently heard a podcast which explained teenage impulsivity and novelty seeking in part by "Lowering the baseline dopamine activity in the reward system" "Increase in dopaminergic reward in ...