Thursday, November 1, 2007

And That's The Way The Cookie Crumbles!

IMPORTANT NOTE: The following post does not reflect the views of it's author. It is simply reflective of what we learned in class, and the information provided is not supported by it's provider.

Welcome folks, to another exciting round of Biology Jeapordy with your host....

The wonderfully talented (and good looking!) Alex Trebek!

So basically, today in class we covered Critical Periods, Various Animal Behaviors (operant and classical conditioning), Social Behaviors, and BioMagnification. So our categories will be.....

1) Critical Periods 2) Various Animal Behaviors 3) Social Behaviors and.....

4) BioMagnification-----surprise!


So, what are these things anyway?

Critical periods are just what they sound like: critical periods of time in which an organism is expected to learn something, which can usually only be learned within the critical period.

For example, language in humans is learned during a critical period. Children who don't learn to speak within this critical period aren't usually able to grasp the complexity of our language.

Critical periods are interesting, aren't they? Why can an organism learn to do something at one period in their life, but not after that? Like they say, you can't teach an old trick a new dog. Or something like that.

Various Animal Behaviors

To easily understand how and why animals act the way they do, it's best to split the topic up into two sections:

1) Innate Behaviors (or instinctive behaviors)
2) Learned Behaviors

While I would love to take the time to explain both to you, I'm not going to! We learned about learned behaviors today, and innate behavior yesterday. So if you need help on innate, consult Sean's post.

--Learned Behaviors--
Learned behaviors are behaviors that organisms learn throughout their lives. For example, most species of birds learn their song from their parents and the birds around them.

When studying learned behaviors, it is imperative that you know the following terms.

Associative Learning-learning to associate one feature of the environment with another.

Operant Conditioning-trial and error learning; associating behavior with reward or punishment.
Classical Conditioning-Associating a "neutral stimulus" with a "significant stimulus"

Operant Conditioning is easy enough to remember. Just think about Skinner's box, and the mouse's repeated action of pressing the lever to get food.

After pushing the lever for the first time (and every time after that), the mouse gets a piece of food. The mouse then learns to associate the act of pushing the lever with a reward.

The ingenious man who came up with this experiment was B.F. Skinner.

Classical Conditioning should be no problem for us AP students either! Just think about Ivan Pavlov and his experiments with the dog and the bell.

Before each time Pavlov fed the dog, he rang a bell. Then, by just ringing a bell, he could get the dog to salivate, expecting food. This experiment demonstrates classical conditioning because the dog is connecting a reflex behavior (salivating at the sight of food) to associated stimulus (the ringing bell).

Let's give it up for Ivan Pavlov!

(Ivan Pavlov)^^^

Next we should talk about Social Behaviors.

Social Behaviors

To understand the social behaviors of animals, we should know:

Habituation-loss of response to stimulus (think of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf", in which animals learn not to repond to repeated occurrences of stimulus).

Many animals use some form of language to communicate. Communication between individuals is necessary for mating, protection, and finding food.

Examples of language in animals are the songs birds use to find mates, and the honey bee's waggle dance.

--Agonistic Behaviors--
Agonistic behaviors are behaviors that animals perform to outcompete others. These behaviors are generally not threatening, but are instead ritualistic behaviors performed to impress mates, and to establish a social rank.

--Altruistic Behaviors--
Altruistic behaviors are behaviors which are performed which reduces individual fitness but increases fitness of recipient.

A perfect example of this is found in the Belding ground squirrel. These crazy squirrels make noise when predators are near, endangering themselves but incresing the chance of survival of their families and offspring.

The next important thing to understand is the concept of pheromones.

Pheromones are chemical substances that stimulate a response from other individuals. The most common pheromone types are alarm pheromones and sex pheromones.

These are vital to the animals success, protection, and reproduction.

So the next time that sweaty person stting next to you smells of bad B.O., just think.... this disgusting, or seductive?

Some animals cooperate with eachother to help get food, protection, or resources. This can best be associated with a mutualistic symbiotic relationship, because both individuals benefit.
Examples of cooperation include:
1) African dogs who hunt together in packs to help bring dow prey more quickly.
2) White pelican and dolphins who "herd" fish to make it easier for the whole group to eat.
--Colonial Mammals--
Colonial mammals are those who have a queen, breeding and non-breeding workers, and a whole social heirarchy.
Some examples of these include:
1) Bees
2) Ants
3) Termites
4) Mole Rats
And since mole rats are all your favorite animals to look at.....
And now....... (finally)
BioMagnification is a pretty easy concept to grasp. Basically, it's just the idea that if a substance is introduced to an organism on the bottom of the food chain, then it will increase in concentration as it travels up the food chain. This is due to the fact that a secondary consumers eat several primary consumers, and get more of a concentration of the substance. In turn, tertiary consumers eat more than one of the secondary consumers, and obtain an even greater concentration of the substance.
So the overall lesson of this post? There is a reason why animals act the way they do, and it's important to know the reason.
All those in favor of having Mrs. Foglia dress up as a witch everyday post "I."
All those in favor of having Mrs. Foglia dress up as a pirate everyday post "Aye."

Let me end this post with a quote: "Mo money, mo money, MO MONEY!"

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