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Biological Explanations of Social Behavior in Animals – Social Behavior (PSY, BIO)

by Tarry Ahuja, MD
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    00:00 Now, we are going to get into the animal kingdom And we’ve done this a few times in some of this modules.

    00:06 and again you might you say, “Why we’re talking about animals? Why am I showing a picture of a squirrel here?” Well again, we can understand and learn a lot from animal models of behaviors because we can relate them to humans.

    00:20 and they present this little micro [inaudible 0:00:21,5] that’s easy to kind of see the big picture 'cause it’s smaller than what we encounter as humans.

    00:28 Forging Behavior.

    00:30 This is when we described animals looking around for food and finding food resources.

    00:36 So securing food can have high energetic cost and can influence patterns of behaviors.

    00:42 We know that looking for food actually requires a lot of energy.

    00:47 The animals need to have enough energy to be able to find the food.

    00:50 and sort of this chicken in the egg because you need the food to get energy, where you spend a lot of energy to get the food.

    00:55 But it will clearly influence the patterns of behavior if you are in a time of starvation or really are hungry.

    01:03 That will adopt your behavior. We know as humans even that is the case.

    01:06 So when you are starving you will do a lot of different things that you might not normally you in order to achieve that food walk far distances or eat things that you might not want to eat because you’re starving, right? Animals employ learning behavior as well to adapt to changing food environments.

    01:20 Now, if they learned a new way to acquire food or if they learn that they can actually eat other foods that they didn’t normally consume.

    01:28 they’ll do that in response to this changing environments.

    01:32 And so many use observational learning to acquire info from elders about forging behaviors and acceptable food items.

    01:38 So how does a rat, or mouse, or squirrel in the situation understand? Or how should they be forging for behavior? So... sorry forging for food.

    01:48 And they learned that behavior by employing observational learning.

    01:52 This is the term that we get into deeper in one of the other modules.

    01:56 but what we’re referring to here is watching and learning at the same time.

    02:00 So you learned by observing and so they will learn the elders in their little squad and how they dig for nuts in a certain way and crack that nut and get what they need and they employ that themselves.

    02:13 Mate Choices and Mating Behavior in Animals.

    02:16 So we know that mating behavior involves the pairing of opposite sex organisms for the purpose of reproduction and the propagation of their genes.

    02:23 So in English, animals like humans mate in order to pass on in exchange to genetic information And they would like to reproduce.

    02:33 So mating behavior can include courtship rituals, copulation, rearing of offspring.

    02:38 these are all different mating behaviors which as humans again we also apply.

    02:43 So three common mating strategies include: Random, which is when you really will have sex with anybody within your species And I think a lot of times that applies to humans as well.

    02:59 So there's no spatial genetic or behavioral limitations.

    03:03 They’ll have sex with anybody within their species.

    03:07 And that’s good in a lot of ways and that it allows for high genetic variability which in the world of genetics mixing in the variability be can be a good thing.

    03:16 It allows for change and when things are stagnant that doesn’t allow for evolution or adaptation.

    03:21 Now, Dissociative mating, is when an individuals with more disparate traits mate more frequently.

    03:26 So opposite attracts. So the more different you are the greater the drive to mate.

    03:34 And again, this kind of leans back on the genetic variability. And that’s a good thing.

    03:38 If you are really really different.

    03:39 But in those who mate using dissociative mating, they’re almost exclusively one as different as possible.

    03:46 And there is Assortative mating.

    03:47 Non-random in which individual with similar genotypes or phenotypes mates.

    03:51 You kind of look like me and so we connect and that makes sense versus where you look completely different.

    03:59 Those to throw animals out there.

    04:01 Two animals that have very similar traits or look very similar that’s going to work on a squirrel, another squirrel that are very similar or from the same type of squirrel.

    04:08 same type of part of the forest versus a squirrel and a zebra, who that’s kind of pretty different will say a squirrel from this part of the forest and a squirrel from another forest to cross a 3 or 4 cities difference might be a little different in terms of their actual genotypes and phenotypes.

    04:28 So they might not want to do that.

    04:32 Now, we’re going to get into this last component of pairing the Game Theory.

    04:39 And also looking at the altruistic and how that affects natural selection.

    04:42 So game theory is used to predict the behavior of large complex systems or a population.

    04:47 So you can kind of do that in animals a little bit easy than in humans.

    04:51 but the ideas you take what you’ve apply what you learn with game theory in animals and apply that to human and in our population.

    04:58 So it’s used to understand different phenomenon to test the animals’ ability to survive and reproduce.

    05:04 So you throw something at the mix, you see how the animals respond, and how is that allow them or change their ability to survive.

    05:13 And then in the animal world as it is with the humans, the ability to reproduce is the key trade for survival.

    05:20 So the better the fitness of the animals versus the competitor, the better the chances and the better the number or the higher the number of potential offspring.

    05:28 These are all positives for the animal.

    05:31 So we can use this to explain how altruistic behavior can actually work in the context of natural selection in that.

    05:37 Animals will do things, which seem altruistic in nature.

    05:41 meaning if they’re helping others in order to actually help the collective group or the further the transfer of their genes or their reproduction.

    05:50 So you see, what why did that animals sacrifice itself? It did so because it knows that it has mated or it has offspring. And those offspring contain its genetic material.

    06:01 So I’m actually furthering my overall collective because my kids will survive even though I will fight this predator that’s going to normally eat me and my family, I will fight the predator so that my family can survive. And so, it looks altruistic but it actually has underlying drive and that’s to help and further the genetic propagation of that animal’s family.

    06:25 And so it’s aligning with natural selection.

    06:28 So we’re going to go through an example with this ground squirrel and it talks about somebody’s components as well.

    06:34 So the inclusive fitness or an organism is identified by three factors.

    06:39 One, the number of offspring that the organism has, how it actually supports an organism and how those offspring support others in the group.

    06:49 How many kids do you have? How much kind of support do you give those kids? And how are those kids support the collective or the group? So an altruistic behavior is one that helps ensure the success or survival of the rest of the social group even at the risk of that actual organism.

    07:05 So the ground squirrels has a unique situation where they live in burrows and caves, and they have this network. And so, they will actually stand guard and they see a predator coming, they will alarm the group and by doing so, they actually alert the predator to their presence.

    07:21 And they end up having the fight the predator a lot of times to their demise, they die.

    07:25 But they’ve save the family. and so again, they sacrifice themselves in order to allow the rest of their squad to survive and to continue and to propagate.

    07:37 So we look at the animal kingdom and we kind of learn from them.

    07:41 And we see their behaviors and we also have talked about all their different social behaviors that we have and how what gets impact and how those two those relate.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Biological Explanations of Social Behavior in Animals – Social Behavior (PSY, BIO) by Tarry Ahuja, MD is from the course Social Interactions.


    Author of lecture Biological Explanations of Social Behavior in Animals – Social Behavior (PSY, BIO)

     Tarry Ahuja, MD

    Tarry Ahuja, MD


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