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Animal Behavior
Animal Behavior

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Animal behavior is predictable. Their behavioral tendencies are influenced by the relationship of its
anatomy to their environment. By observing various forms of life, and associating the mechanism of their
abilities to perform a behavioral action, evolutionary influence thereafter, can be analyzed and deduced
from that point.


The science and study of animal behavior involve an enormous array of complicated factors. For
instance, stereotyped responses are unlearned behavioral reactions to some environmental stimulus
predicated upon an organism relationship to its physical environment and anatomy. This obviously begs
the question; is the observable behavior such as, the vertical movements demonstrated by brine shrimp
(marine plankton experiment) or peristaltic movements showed by earthworms (animal behavioral lab
experiment) a form of deliberate taxis or random kinesis? However, to properly be able to address those
questions, it’s far more important to examine the intricate factors involving the complex interactions
between the effects of environmental stimuli,(dry air for the earthworm and directional light for the brine
shrimp) towards the affected anatomical structure and physiological function of a specific organ system of
those particular animal species. Therefore, I hypothesize, that an !
earthworm will exert random kinetic behavior through peristaltic movement in an arid clinical environment
because, it’s sensory apparatus (respiratory system) will detect a potential life/death situation precipitated
by the threat of desiccation; whereas, the brine shrimp will demonstrate deliberate vertical movements of
behavioral taxis because, the environmental stimuli of light will be effecting an entirely different sensory
apparatus (ocular nervous ) ofwhich, doesn’t afford the potential possibility of impending doom. By that,
affording the luxury of stereotypical behavior that can be later linked to environmental fitness. In short, an
animal’s behavior about a particular type of movement is predicated upon the environmental clues, which
directly influence the innate survival mechanisms of a species or its anatomical configuration with
evolutionary fitness.

However, inasmuch as some forms of animal behavior can be easily be analyzed by a simple stimulus and
response scenario, such as with earthworms and brine shrimp. Others such as the rheotactic behavior of
trout (aquarium field trip) and penguin mating habits (zoo field trip) are far more complicated. These
particular types of animal behavior involve a wider spectrum of coordinated organ systems. For instance,
trouts are migratory fish and posses the additional physical characteristics of using chemorecptors (smell)
too located their initial spawning grounds. Because of this evolutionary/genetic characteristic, they must
swim against currents to be able to maximize their olfactory senses. Although the sense of smell is apart of
the nervous system, the mechanism that coordinates rheotactic behavior is an entirely different nervous
component. Trout like other fish use their mechanoreceptors located in their lateral line system to detect
the movement and direction of water.!
Which solicits the question, if trouts are rheotactic, then why do they need to intermediately break from
the current and swim in a particular pattern? Therefore I hypothesize, which a trout’s general rheotactic
behavior is predicating upon the coordinated environmental stimulus of an aqueous solute concentration,
ofwhich will confirm olfactory distance, and the lateral line thereafter functions to facilitate in the correct
direction. Consequentially, rheotactic behavior controlled by the lateral line is dependent upon the
chemoreptors of the olfactory senses of a trout. Thus, a trout’s intermittent behavior during rheotactic
movement is more or less a pause for the benefit of olfactory orientation.

Penguins unlike trout, brine shrimp and earthworms are flightless birds. Because of their physical size,
they inherently have a larger cerebral capacity. This anatomical characteristic complicates the qualitative
analysis of penguin mating behavior tremendously. Largely because, penguins have the physical capacity
of conscious thought, interactive communication immersed in a sheath of innate unlearned behavior.
However, penguins are similar to trout in that, they to are migratory creatures. Thus, penguins like trout
integrate a number of different physiological systems for mating behavior. One of which involves the
coordinated interaction between their endocrine system and nervous system. Therefore I hypothesize, that
male penguins during the mating season are territorially aggressive due to the imbalance of testosterone
within their system, and female penguins are passive and somewhat behaviorally more submissive due to
the higher amounts of estrogen within their sys!
tems. Furthermore, because the endocrine system is such an incredible catalyst for a volatile explosion of
metabolic energy, I anticipate that male penguin behavior during mating season will only be overtly
exhibited for the purposes of reproductive behavior and territorial defense.

To conclude, animals regardless of species are physiologically dependent upon their specific anatomical
construction. Certain simple behavioral responses are involuntary due to survival necessity, while others
can be influence by environmental stimuli. But no matter, what the stimulus might have been that
initiated a particular animal’s behavior, the overall motor behavioral reaction will be dictated by the specific
animal’s evolutionary genetic configuration. This is the premise for ultimate cause and evolutionary
fitness. The purpose of this paper is to substantiate proximate causes (physical mechanisms) that invoke
observable and physical behavior in animals, which can be reproduced under isolated clinical condictions.


On March 5, during the afternoon between 1:00 p.m. thru 2:00 p.m., plankton samples where drawn from
the Oakland Estuary. Samples were procured from a dark area and a well-lighted area at the surface level,
2 feet and at 4 feet depth levels with a sweeping motion from left to right. With the use of a lowering line
and thermometer equilibrated by keeping it in water for over one minute, temperatures were drawn at the
various levels and at the different areas. Also a secci disc ofwhich was attached to a lowering line was used
to calculate the various light levels of penetration at both lighted and dark areas. By lowering the secci disc
until it was no longer visible, then raising it until it was again visible was the method used to calculate the
light penetration. This was done twice. Furthermore, salinity was measured with a refractometer. In
addition, brine shrimp was observed at both the San Francisco Exploratorium and Steinhart Aquarium. At
the San Francisco Explor!
atorium, a light switch changed the direction of the light from superior to inferior lighting. Which
displayed the behavioral patterns of brine shrimp.

On March 10, a series of animal lab observations was conducted by students to observe the various
behavioral patterns of different life organisms. On this particular date, four pairs of animals were tested for
their olfactory reactions to acetic acid and vanilla, tactile response to sandpaper, glass and loose soil inside
a rectangular pan, light generated by a lighter, and in a dark environment. The pairs of animals chosen for
observation were two guinea pigs, two mud shrimps, two earthworms and two garden snails. In addition, a
supplemental experiment was conducted later to observe the kinetic behavior of an earthworm by using a
rectangular pan with dry sand and damp loose soil at polar extremes overheaded by an intensive heat lamp
to generate a thermal atmosphere.

On March 3l, a field trip was taken to San Francisco’s Steinhart’s Aquarium. The purpose of the field trip
was to make timed and observational recordings of four various animals. Three to be recorded for only 15
minutes, and one at one hour. Ten types of behavioral categories were used to document behavior. They
were ingestive, shelter seeking, agonistic, sexual, care giving, care soliciting, eliminative, investigative,
allominetic, resting and other. The animals selected for observations were the moral eel, hooker shark,
golden trout and Black footed penguins. The animal chosen for an hour observation was the Golden trout

On April 4, another field trip was taken for the San Francisco Zoo. The conditions of observation were
identical to the San Francisco Steinhart Aquarium field trip. However, the animals chosen for observation
were the Magellanic penguins, grizzly bear, Bengal tigers, and Flamingos.

Results (brine shrimp/marine plankton experiment)

Inasmuch as my hypothesis was based upon a particular type of plankton, the prejudice of my thought was
because, I only associated plankton too crustacean like organisms, such as krill and brine shrimp.
However, after the use of a microscope and various slides of different samples from both lighted and dark
areas. As well as the three depth levels, numerous diatoms were observed. These are known as
phytoplankton or the “grass” of the sea. The other types of animate plankton are known as zooplankton.
The vertical variation of various plankton can be contributed to certain physical factors such as, light and
temperature (recorded at Fahrenheit). Apparently, more organisms of various kinds of plankton were
recorded in the lighted area. At surface level, the temperature was 52 degrees, four roifers (wheel animals),
five barnacle nauplius and a mollusk larva were observed by seven slides. At 2 feet, eight diatoms, a
barnacle larva and a polchacte worm was recorded. The t!
emperature at the 2-foot level was at 51.9 degrees, and observations were based upon seven slides. At 4
feet, the temperature was at 52 degrees, three rotifers, 11 diatoms, a barnacle nauplius and other not named
organisms were in this level. Five slides accumulated for the total amount of creatures at this depth. The
light penetration for the lighted area was at 3 feet and 4 inches and the salinity was at 15%.

In the dark area, the light penetration was at 3 feet, and the salinity was recorded at 17%. At the surface
level, three diatoms, a rotifer and barnacle worm was recorded by five slides. The temperature was 53.6
degrees. At the 2-foot level the temperature was at 5l.8 degrees and from six slides three diatoms, a rotifer,
copepod and polychaete worm was recorded. At the 4-foot level, the temperature was at 5l.35 degrees,
eight slides confirmed the presence of a copepod, marine worm and various string type diatoms. Thus,
from these results, estuary plankton has the behavioral tendency to populate the area between the bottom
of the light penetration level recorded at approximately 3 feet in the greatest abundance.

Whereas the classroom experiment was an excellent medium to evaluate the relationship between the
vertical variations of plankton in relationship to depth. The San Francisco Exploritorium was a profound
influence to the behavioral nature of brine shrimp too light. The experimental conditions at the
Exploritorium proved that brine shrimp at a mature stage will swim away from the light by using a method
of locomotion known as, vertical migration. However, in contrast to adult brine shrimp, the younger brine
shrimp swam toward the light. Surprisingly enough, the behavior characteristics of brine shrimp at the San
Francisco Exploritorium, and the behavioral tendency of zooplankton at the Oakland Estuary shared
remarkable similarities in that them, both tend to populate at the border of the dark end of the light
penetration level of their aqueous environments.

Results (Earthworm/animal behavioral lab experiment)

When both the guinea pigs were given the opportunity to smell the acetic acid, both went one step further
and actually tasted the end of the dropper containing the acetic acid. However, neither guinea pig was
responsive to the vanilla. On sand paper, the pair of guinea pigs wouldn’t move and stood in place. When
put into the glass and loose sand pan, both guinea pigs moved from the glass toward the sand. When the
guinea pigs were exposed to the flame of the lighter, they responded by moving away. Finally, when both
guinea pigs were put into a dark box with only one small opening, neither guinea pig left the box.
Furthermore, both guinea pigs huddled next to each other. Exhibiting what appeared to be a more relaxed
state of being. In contrast, to the others guinea pigs exposed to open and more active environmental
elements in a wire cage, such as more sounds and various optical stimuli.

When both the mud shrimp were exposed to the acetic acid, both moved to another direction. But neither
mud shrimp exhibited any significant response to the vanilla. When the pairs of mud shrimp were place on
the sand paper, they didn’t move at all. However, when put onto the glass and loose sand, they were
actively moving. But when tested to the flame of the lighter, both moved toward the flame. One even
went into the flame, and when place into a dark space they moved actively.

The pair of earthworms both responded somewhat convulsively toward the acetic acid. But they seem to
gravitate toward the vanilla. The earthworms didn’t move very actively on the sandpaper, but were actively
moving from the glass to rest in the loose sand. When the earthworms were exposed to the flame of the
lighter they, both moved away from the flame. Finally, when the earthworms were tested in a dark
environment, they eventually stop moving.

The snails repelled from both the acetic acid and vanilla. Neither snail was inhibited from moving on the
sandpaper nor glass. But when exposed to the flame, both moved with a more rapid action, than seen in
other experiments.

In the earthworm experiment conducted under the heatlamp. The earthworm was active upon moving
toward a polar extreme. But when the worm contacted the sand it reversed it’s direction, until it reached the
moist earth soil at the other polar extreme. To verify the earthworm’s preference to moist soil, their heads
were pointed to the direction of the loose earth and upon reaching it, they stopped and began to burrow in

Results (Golden trout/San Francisco Aquarium field trip)

Coincidentally, the stream of water flushing into the tank (creating a current) was at the observation
window of the trout tank. The golden trout, chosen for observation was relatively large. In a one hour
period, the trout occasionally moved from it’s schooling position to make a circle. Although, there were no
consistent intervals between breaks, they did range between five and l0 minutes apart. Furthermore, every
time the trout moved, it always returned to the same position it left from. Conveniently, the trout may have
used the three stones at the base of it’s schooling position as a marker Also, the school showed something
that resembled a hierarchy of order. It appeared that the larger fished floated toward the bottom, while the
smaller fished floated at the top. During the observation period, the fish dispersed in a rapid manner on
three occasions. On the first random dispersement, no significant signal was apparent. However during the
second rapid dispersion!
, I noticed that the smaller fish used their tails to suspend themselves to maintain swimming. But, the
larger fish at the bottom seemed to use their front fins more actively to suspend themselves and barely
moved their tails. During the second dispersion, an observation was made that one smaller fish made an
aggressive and sudden movement toward a surface object and thereby, disturbing the motion of the water.
Upon the movement of that fish, the rest of the school followed in fashion toward that general location.
But after that sudden movement, the golden trout under observation returned to the same location it left
from with almost accurate precision and distance from the three-stone marker at the base of its location.
What seems significant during the observation was that the golden trout barely opened its mouth while in
rheotactic motion. Yet, when it made it slow and circular pattern outside the current, it’s gills and mouths
were actively intaking water.

The three other observations at the aquarium didn’t produce any significant observations. Except the
Black footed penguin. Upon the l5 minute observation period, a pair of penguins appeared to be copulating
reproductively within their nest. At 3:00 p.m., during their feeding period. The copulating pair didn’t eat
any of the food. Instead, they stayed in their nest, while the others did eat. However, another observation
was noticed, it appeared that the penguins that were not in their nest ate the most. While those that were in
their nest barely ate at all.

Results (Penguins/San Francisco Zoo field trip)

Unlike the San Francisco Steinhart Aquarium, the penguins at the San Francisco Zoo where on an island
in the open environment. Furthermore they were Magellanic penguins, and these penguins are more of a
cold weather species of penguin. But what was significant was that, they used a great deal of vocal noises.
Also, they tended to move in pairs of two similar to their Black footed penguin counterparts. Inasmuch, as
no eggs were noticed, observations did reflect that certain penguins barely moved. These penguins tended
to be a bit larger than the other penguins. In addition, whenever a pair did move, the larger one lead, the
way and the smaller one followed. If, I were to speculate upon the sex, I would speculate, that the larger
species of penguins were males for two reasons, (1) observations were noticed, that the larger one for the
most part stayed outside the nest, and when other penguins came to close the large penguin would
demonstrate territorial aggression by!
making an agonistic gesture with it’s beak at the apparent intruder. (2) At the San Francisco Aquarium, the
penguins that were copulating were almost undistingushable from my naked eye, except their size and the
manner of hair on their upper limbs. The larger penguins had hairy upper limbs, and the ones inside the
nest had almost smooth upper limbs. During the one hour observation period, most all of the penguins
tended to respect each others territory. The exception was with the smaller penguins. They tended to be on
the more playful by nature. Spending a healthy portion of time swimming in the water and moving about
in almost a child like manner.

As for the observations of the Bengal tiger, it was about 1:00 in the afternoon, both tigers were asleep
under a tree in their outdoor observation environment. As for the grizzle bear, it spent almost ten minute
staring at the wall with its back faced towards the public, and as for the Flamingos, it was about 4:00 p.m.,
they for the most part were perched upon one leg, and resting in various positions. What was interesting
was that, observations were noticed that they could place their heads under the wings. Other than that, the
Flamingos were inactive during the l5 minute period because, the flock was more or less asleep.

Discussion (marine plankton)

Environmental factors that certainly influence the behavioral tendency of marine plankton are the currents
of the water, salinity, temperature and light. The primary factor that influences the behavior of
phytoplankton is the necessity for radiant light for photosynthesis. Several physiological factors influence
zooplankton. The first one being, which the phytoplankton is a source of food. Thus, phytoplankton is
inherently more abundant in warmer water because, the sunlight is effecting the environment. But what is
more important for phytoplankton is not the temperature, but the access to a greater amount of sunlight.
The second major factor of environmental influence is that, since marine plankton are more or less a free-
floating buoyant life form, it’s primary method of horizontal locomotion would be largely dictated by the
motions of the currents and the salinity of the water. However, certain types of marine plankton such as
brine shrimp have demonstrated that,!
they posses the ability to exercise vertical locomotion pending environmental stimuli. As noted before, in
the results paragraph on brine shrimp at the San Francisco Exploritorium, mature brine shrimp swim away
from the direction of light, but the younger ones swim towards the light. Anatomically, crustaceans have
compound eyes. This particular type of eye is far more sensitive to radiant energy. Furthermore, a
compound eye interprets optical stimuli at a much faster rate than the single eye of human being for
example, but, it doesn’t focus as distinctly as a human’s eye. Thus I speculate, that younger brine shrimp
swims toward the light because, the optical stimuli of light initiates an involuntarily primitive motor
response compounded by a neural system connected by a continuous nerve fiber stretched from eye to tail.
Only through maturity, does the brine shrimp innately learns how to control this mechanism of behavioral
taxis. Although, the Advantages of being in !
the light promote an easier access to phytoplankton, it also, promote the vulnerability of also becoming a
more visible source of food for other predatory species. Therefore, the ultimate cause of the behavioral
tendency of photonegitive vertical migration enhances evolutionary fitness by concealing the location of
the mature brine shrimp in darker waters. Whereas, the proximate mechanism is it’s innate anatomical
structure of it’s nervous system and compound eye. In addition to this assertion, the experiment conducted
on mud shrimp also promotes the proximate cause hypothesis that shrimp do not have an acute sensory
receptor for temperature, but are physiologically stimulated too light.

Discussion (animal behavior lab)

From clinical observations, several noticeable behavior seemed reasonable clearly. For instance, when
the guinea pigs tasted the acetic acid, I speculate this behavioral reaction is associated to the remote fact
that guinea pigs eat roots and various forms of vegetation. Many of which, resemble a more sour taste than
sweet, and since acetic acid may smell like vinegar, it characteristically is sour. Thus, is familiar to rodent
type creatures. However, other animals such as the earthworm and snail were diametrically reactive to the
acetic acid. I speculate that, this behavioral reaction is associated to the fact that acetic acid is an acid.
Thus, it posses the characteristic to damage tissue. Therefore, because both the earthworm and snail have
such delicate outer surfaces, they must physiologically repel from anything that can damage its exterior
tissue. As far as behavioral tendencies toward tactile surfaces, what was interesting was that guinea pigs
have claws, an!
d the earthworm’s exterior surface is also its respiratory surface. Thus, I speculate that these animals didn’t
move because, their sensory receptors located at their tactile surfaces communicated to their brains the
potential danger of the situation to their surface anatomy. Thus, the proximate cause of the behavior was
not to move. However, the most dramatic behavioral observation was with the earthworm. When the
earthworm was placed into an arid environment, it would move toward a direction that provided a damp
and moist environment. Yet, the proximate cause of this behavior was because, the exterior skin of an
earthworm is also its respiratory surface. This is a main component of it’s breathing apparatus, and
although, the earthworm may be accustomed to a moist and damp environment like the underground
surface of the earth, it doesn’t cognitively prefer the dark protection and security of the soil from the open
and exposed surface of the lab pan, but instead, it’s se!
nsory receptors are sensing a reduction of cellular respiration due to desiccation, and the immediate motor
response is to peristaltically move to a moist and damp environment to resusicate the respiratory surface to
a proper medium for adequate breathing and continued survival. In addition, it was speculating that, an
earthworm could feel moisture in the air. So to test the kinetic behavioral characteristics of the earthworm,
the environmental conditions prohibited this feature by artificially heating up the experimental atmosphere
with a heating lamp. Then by initially pointing it’s head toward the dry hot sand, and finally, by placing a
glass barrier in front of the moist soil. From these experiments, I concluded that, an earthworm will move
in a random kinetic fashion to find a suitable moist and damp environment for simplicity of survival.

Discussion (San Francisco Aquarium field trip)

The compounded rheotactic behavior tendency of the Golden trout camouflages to a large extent the
paramount purposes of this observable trait. Since swimming against a current requires a substantial
amount of greater energy than swimming with the current, there must be some innate purpose for this
enormous expenditure of additional energy. Initially, the behavioral action of rheotactic swimming is an
independent genetic characteristic. However, ultimate cause is predicated upon two major words. The first
word begins innate, and second word is genetic. These two words contribute to the concept of evolutionary
fitness. Hence, analytical reasoning had to be applied with this particular behavior. First, given the
proposition that, the behavior of swimming against a current was not within itself an enclosed action, then
it must be a precipitory action leading to an ultimate purpose. Second, upon close observation, it was
noticed that, the trout’s operculum was engaged in !
what appeared to be exaggerated ventilation. So I concluded that, the mechanical uptake of water was not
exclusively for aquatic respiration, which the action within itself, provided the inflow of greater amounts of
water. Now for the third and most speculative point, if the necessity for water uptake was not for the sole
benefits of breathing or osmoregulation, then the sublime purpose must be for the benefit of the ingesting
whatever must be in the water. By that combining these three points, and through the knowledge that,
trouts use their chemoreceptors for the migratory purpose of reproduction, I deductively concluded that the
behavioral purpose of swimming upstream against a current was a mechanism for directional navigation
using the lateral line system, and the purpose of intermittent pauses with exaggerated respiratory behavior
was for the benefit of olfactory orientation. Therefore, the proximate cause of rheotactic behavior involves
the coordinated use of the la!
teral line system, respiratory systems and nervous system of smell and cognitive memory.

Discussion (San Francisco Zoo field trip)

The mating behavior of penguins posses some really interesting socio-behavior facets. For instance,
although no eggs were exposing too plain view, it was apparently clear, which penguins share in the
responsibilities of incubating their eggs within the nest of their rookery. Another fascinating feature about
penguin behavior was that the smaller penguins/young were totally void from anything that resembled the
more mature penguin mating behavior. This facet of youth behavior signifies that, these young offspring
don’t mature into physically reproductive penguins unlike other birds into in a short period of time. In
addition, since the behavior of playing is a form of learning, two things immediately standout: (1) That
these young penguins lack the immediate ability to fully integrate into an adult penguin society, because the
behavior of playing is a characteristic of slower maturing animals. (2) Given that penguins have the ability
to use vocal noises to communicate, i!
t also means, that they are a more developed species of social animal. As such, requires a greater amount
of time to physically and socially mature into the complex matrix of mature penguin life. However, these
physiological characteristic’s signifies that, evolutionary fitness has forced them to physically mature at a
slower rate. These physiological phenomena associated to a slower anatomical development are why, I
speculate that penguins go through a far more systematically complex development process to prepare for
mating than other animals. Therefore, this partially accounts for the ability too fast during mating season,
gains a credible amount of body weight, learns how use their ability to communicate and mature as far as,
they innately perform behaviorally observable tendencies such as agonistical and territorial behavior.


For the most part, animal behavior is not a randomly exercised action. Creatures despite size, order in the
food chain, anatomical complexity or cognitive capacity all are dependent upon the relationship of their
physical structure and how it integrates with their environment. Phytoplankton is mutually dependent upon
the environmental conditions of sunlight, and zooplankton are bio-taxis responsively too light based upon
the level of their maturity. An earthworm’s kinetic behavior under environmentally hostile conditions is
predictable, because of its physiological survival mechanism.

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