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

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44
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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? ...
18
votes
1answer
945 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 ...
14
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1answer
641 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?
11
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1answer
303 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, ...
11
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
294 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
votes
4answers
483 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
votes
1answer
76 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
165 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
99 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
1answer
391 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
194 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
180 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
543 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
8k 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
76 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
votes
1answer
99 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
votes
3answers
67 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
3answers
323 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
votes
1answer
80 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.
5
votes
1answer
63 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
267 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
63 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
211 views

Why would deers keep crossing a river full of crocodiles while some of them have been killed?

I recently watched a clip on Discovery Channel, where I saw deers crossing a river full of crocodiles, ignoring the fact that some of them would have been killed doing so. What could be an ...
4
votes
2answers
227 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
40 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
185 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
535 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
117 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
1answer
152 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?
3
votes
1answer
76 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
595 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
70 views

Is there a schema for how human behavior is genetically determined?

It seem one can distinguish three different kinds of genetic determinism of common patterns of human behavior: behavior that is directly wired into our nervous system, e.g. face-related mirror ...
3
votes
1answer
70 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
823 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: ...
3
votes
1answer
67 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
151 views

What is the biological basis for a human's ability to think clearly and be aware while “fighting/competing”?

I'm interested in learning more about the biological systems or hormones or parts of the brain that affect short term (<15 minutes) ability to concentrate attention on the task and be aware of the ...
3
votes
0answers
102 views

Why do baby mammals tend to play? [closed]

Why do babies of any mammal tend to play ? From humans to small dog pups, cubs of a lion, baby bears, etc. *I am not sure if the tag I chose is correct or not. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
2
votes
2answers
134 views

What does this Barbary Macaque facial expression mean?

A girl pretended having a piece of food in her hand and pointed it to a Barbary Macaque in Gibraltar. As a response he made this facial expression to her. What does this mean?
2
votes
1answer
69 views

How does the ideal free distribution work?

I have recently completed a study on Brent Goose. I found that Brent Geese occupy high quality habitat first then once this is full of geese, they fill up low quality habitat. However, there were ...
2
votes
1answer
142 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
33 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Do insomniacs yawn?

According to wikipedia, the jury is still out on the function a yawn serves. The article referenced above however writes to say Yawning most often occurs in adults immediately before and after ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Are humans an eusocial species?

In the evolution of sociality among animals, different degrees are acknowledged. Some species present overlapping generations, some division of labor, and the minority present reproductive division. ...
2
votes
2answers
961 views

Is it possible that the recipient of a heart transplant would display some of the donor's personality traits, as if the heart has memories?

I've read somewhere that after a person has a heart transplant, it is possible that his/her attitude, action or behavior would change slightly or significantly, as though he/she possesses some aspects ...
2
votes
1answer
102 views

What does self-preservation stem from? [closed]

Self-preservation, or preservation anyway, probably happens throughout the animal kingdom, and perhaps through the plant kingdom as well (some plants/trees, apparently, produce chemicals to repel ...
2
votes
1answer
31 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
137 views

Why do chameleons move back and forth?

I was always curious, why do chameleons have this strange gait?
2
votes
1answer
76 views

Book-recommendation: Ethology

I am looking for a book that covers the following topics in ethology: Behaviour Sensory filtering, reponsive-ness, sign stimuli, learning and memory, instinct, habituation, conditioning, ...
2
votes
1answer
131 views

Is there an instinct-driven body language for birds?

Over the last year or so, I've been observing house sparrows, because they are so prevalent in the northeast US cities. I noticed that a lot of sparrows, even in different cities seem to have very ...