Questions tagged [ethology]

The study of animal behaviour.

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Is there "limbic mimicry" in real life to distract animals? (like it was portrayed in "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore")

In the movie "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore", one of the characters comes up with the idea of "limbic mimicry" to distract dangerous animals from violent behavior. ...
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Do *Ambystoma macrodactylum* predate on *ceuthophilinaens* like the one I observed?

I observed this Ambystoma macrodactylum within half of a meter of this Ceuthophilinaen under an old board. I can imagine salamanders eating cricket-like things, but this question is far outside my ...
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Has anyone seen/read interspecies competition that is different at spatial scale for the same group of animals?

I work at a highly fragmented wildlife sanctuary in North Borneo, Malaysia. We have 8 species of hornbills here and from our observation they've grown to be less territorial in terms of where they ...
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3 votes
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Can we infer the orientation of a moose's head from the teeth patterns on tree trunks?

Background I am interested in studying the distribution and patterns of behaviour of moose (Alces alces). Moose chew bark off of the trunks of trees, especially Populus tremuloides. See some of the ...
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Giant inflatable laboratory in the jungle. How to find it?

When I was a child (circa year 2000), I watched a documentary (in English) about some biologists doing research about jungle (perhaps Amazon). The biologists lived in a base which was a huge ...
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What is the phenomenon when animals mimic other animals in order to survive?

The caterpillar Hemeroplanes triptolemus adopts the appearance of a snake when it detects danger. What is this phenomenon called in which animals mimic other animals in order to survive? Is it ...
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How many of their caches do chickadees retrieve?

Chickadees are scatter-caching birds and I've heard they can hide as many as 10,000 seeds for retrieval over the winter. How many of these cached seeds actually end up getting used in a typical winter?...
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Why is this bumblebee attracted to a methane leak?

In this video from Bloomburg Quicktake, the reporters discover at a methane well (Skip to 14:21) a GHG leak that has attracted bumblebees. Does natural gas smell sweet to bees? Why would the bees be ...
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Do the activity patterns of an owl species determine their eye colour?

Recently I've been thinking about the colour of owl eyes, and trying to figure out if there is a pattern anywhere between species. I have read for example, that yellow-eyes implies they are day time ...
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Why is this giant water bug out of the water?

I recently took a picture of a giant water bug actually out of the water. Every instance that I have seen these of critters they have always been in the water (sometimes even feasting on frogs), but ...
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Do crabs actually "rip the legs off of other crabs" if they try to escape a bucket?

I read this strange remark: Picture a bucket full of crabs with no lid. The moment a crab tries to get out, the other crabs will literally rip its legs off. It was said as something that is common ...
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Little owl as decoy for skylark

I read that hunters used (now is forbidden) little owls tethered to attract skylarks. They say this is due to their magnetic look of the eyes. I didn't find any scientific documentation of this. Any ...
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I had an encounter with a cougar (mountain lion). What does the recurrence time look like?

I had an encounter with a cougar recently. I was walking down a muddy old forest service road when approximately 15-20 meters behind me a deer burst out of the brush with a cougar chasing it close ...
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What is the term for the physical and behavioral changes that occur in an adult species due to the change in their hierarchy?

For example, when a chicken becomes a rooster its crest becomes larger and their feathers become more colorful. Dominant male lions get larger and darker manes. Also, can these changes also occur ...
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Is it possible to put 100 live black ants and 100 live fire ants in a glass jar without them fighting each other immediately?

Background: There is a claim falsely attributed to David Attemborough: If you collect 100 black ants and 100 fire ants and put them in a glass jar nothing will happen. But if you take the jar, shake ...
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Can apes have schizophrenia?

Many animals can become mentally ill, but I could not find any account of animals showing schizophrenia, not even apes. I could only find this, but it seems very vague. Is there any evolutionary ...
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Do whales ever just hang out on the surface breathing?

You only ever hear of whales surfacing for a brief second to exhale/inhale before they dive back down. But do they ever just stay at surface level, laying there with their blow hole up in the air, ...
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Why don't bees sting hornets for defense?

Why don't honeybees sting hornets for defense when their hive is attacked? It seems like a good weapon against bigger animals - why not against hornets?
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Do the posterior legs of mosquito plays the role of antenna?

I have had this question for years and this stems from the observation that when I bring my hand close to a mosquito lying on some surface (e.g : wall) I see its posterior legs - which are in a ...
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Is there any non-human animal social group that punishes members with "imprisonment" or a similar method?

I was reading this blog on Scientific American, which discusses whether wild animals are happier than domesticated ones. I've also read about strong territorial instincts in some species. This reading ...
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Bats observed hunting insect prey - any evidence of "handedness" (laterality) in circular flight pattern?

Whilst watching a bat hunting on the wing at dusk (most likely was a species common to my urban UK location, e.g. pipistrelle) its flight pattern around the garden comprised circles, several metres in ...
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Why do Oak Processionary caterpillars form processions?

Firstly ,I don't live in Europe. I live in South India, and my garden has a Night Flowering Jasmine tree. And these trees are quite popular, but notorious for their caterpillars. In our region ,there ...
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2 votes
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What changes do ants make to the soil they use for building ant hills

I live in South India ,and among the many species of ants in and around our house, some of them except the weaver ants build the typical small ant hills in the garden. I have examined the coarse sand ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Why do mosquitoes appear to be repelled by magnets?

A few days ago, I was playing with magnets and thought of placing one near a live mosquito (I had it held between my two fingers so it had no chance of escaping). When near the magnet, it twitched and ...
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Can ants distinguish individual ants in the colony?

I am aware that ants have the ability to distinguish which female is the queen and which ones aren't. However, can ants also uniquely distinguish other individual ants in the colony? Is the ...
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Harbor Seal behavior and personality

I'm doing some research on Harbor seal behavior, but I haven't been able to find much on general behavior such as personality, quirks, ect. Does anyone have anyone have any firsthand experience with ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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How do crickets get away with being so loud without getting eaten?

How do crickets get away with being so loud without getting eaten? There are a number of bugs that reproduce by blatantly advertising their location. For instance fireflies advertise their location ...
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1 answer
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Why do wild lizards often tap with their front leg?

I have a lot of wild lizards (possibly Podarcis muralis) in my garden, and I have noticed some of their behavior I'd like to understand: whenever they are in 'still' position on any surface, they are ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why do bees fly inside the gaps between the decoration on the exterior wall of a building and the wall?

My house has decorations around the windows on the exterior wall: There are gaps between those decorations and the bricks of the building: During the summer, there are always bees looking for those ...
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8 votes
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How do beavers learn how to build dams?

I was wondering whether all beavers, from all around the world, know how to build dams and lodges? Do they need to learn it from their parents? If you release a group of beavers in the wild that haven'...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Frogs stop croaking at same time

I know frogs start croaking at the same time to attract a female. Why do they all stop at the same time?
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Do some birds really clean themselves using wet leaves?

While researching native shrubs to put in my garden for bird habitat, I read that some birds will take advantage of bushes to clean themselves by rubbing themselves against a wet leaf after rainfall (...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Why are these nesting magpies building another nest

Pair if eurasian magpies occupy a nest visible from my balcony. It's the nesting season for them here, and I assumed they have laid eggs. I can't see the eggs directly, but one of the magpies has been ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Why are Aardvarks capable of burrowing given their size?

I was wondering if large animals could possibly dig extensive burrows for themselves to live in. The polar bear burrows, but snow is not dirt. The aardvark goes about 4' long, ~150 lbs: similar to a ...
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7 votes
2 answers
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Can you explain the behavior of this snake?

I just saw this video in which a snake is swallowing grapes. ("Whip snake eating grapes"). In the video, the snake just doesn't eat but goes on to swallow 2-3 grapes. I did some research on the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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The "truce of the watering hole" -- is it completely discredited?

In short, the idea comes from Kipling that animals observe a sort of truce around watering holes and prey animals do not have to be on guard (as much?) from predators in the vicinity. I have read ...
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Do any non-human species have juveniles that cannot communicate with adults?

Human babies take 1+ years to begin learning how to speak (though sign language can be learned a bit earlier1). I know that cries, yells, and other non-linguistic sound are a simple form of ...
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1 vote
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The primary source for Erich von Holst research for minnow forebrain and shoaling

I am trying to find the primary source of information about the experiments of Eric von Holst, mentioned by Konrad Lorenz in the book “Das sogenannte Böse: Zur Naturgeschichte der Aggression”/“On ...
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1 answer
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The emergence of Phengaris butterflies from ant nests

The butterflies of the Phengaris genus (also known as Maculinea) are known to be brood parasitic. During the fourth instar, the caterpillars leave their food plant and mimic ant larvae, causing the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What's the technical terminology for call-and-respond type behaviour?

The groups of some species such as water birds display a behavior that once out of line-of-sight a member will periodically initiate an interaction by make some type of sound, which will be followed ...
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1 answer
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Predatory animal tracking methods

As far as I know, humans are the only animals that use visual references to track prey that is not immediately visible to them. Do any other animals do this? I'm not referring to stalking prey ...
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Do animals exist (for example ostriches, chimps, etc.) that develop the need to mate with humans if they are soley raised and socialized by humans?

I just watched a German talk show "Nachtstudio" with the title "Die Graugans und der Mensch" (Gosling and People) about the legacy of the famous ethologist and Nobel Prize winner Konrad Lorenz (https:/...
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-3 votes
2 answers
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Why are children so violent, compared to other adolescent animals, when they play?

When children play it is frequent that someone starts crying, suffers minor injuries and that they are intentionally mean towards each other (e.g., bite, pull hair, throws sand, pushes someone so they ...
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Can Chilopoda "vocalize" or produce sound for the express purpose of communication, as opposed to sound as a byproduct of other movements?

Is there any species of Chilopoda that can "vocalize" or or otherwise produce sound for the express purpose of communication, as opposed to sounds it might create as a byproduct of other movements ...
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Lions protecting girl in Ethopia -- how plausible is it that they understood situation?

Several years ago we read of a girl who was apparently threatened by humans being protected by lions who chases off the males and stayed with the girl. Explanations like, "her crying resembled that of ...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Why do some ant workers still wander at night?

As far as I have seen, the vast majority of workers in colonies of diurnal, non-nomadic species return to their nests and remain there at night. The colonies seem to forage largely during the day. ...
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16 votes
1 answer
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What is this grasshopper doing?

I spotted a grasshopper standing on a pavement with a long sting placed in asphalt. I also recorded a video of it moving: https://youtu.be/JoDdg2yUuYo What is it doing?
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why squirrel behaviour varies greatly throughout India?

Common squirrels seen in India, probably Indian palm squirrels; seem to have drastic different behaviour. And all squirrels of a definite locality, behave in a very consistently same whay. That seems ...
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2 answers
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Is 'disorientation event' a common term among biologists?

On the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources web page about the marine turtle conservation program it says, "When a hatchling sea turtle is attracted away from the ocean towards a direct or ...
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Are there any animal species other than humans & chimps that engage in tribal conflicts?

i.e., between tribes within the specie. (For chimps, see, e.g., https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/01/160130-animals-insects-ants-war-chimpanzees-science.) Am seeking examples to develop ...
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