Animal Behavior - Class Blog

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At various points in the class, you will be responsible for adding a post to our class blog, below. I will notify you in-class, and via email, when blog posts are due.

Unless otherwise instructed, for your posts, search the web to find something relevant to our topic for that week, an article or web page that is both educational and would likely be of interest to your classmates. You may not repeat a blog post already used by someone else -- e.g., you cannot use an article of web site link that someone else has already used.

Keep this web browser window open (but don't login or click the "Edit" button yet). Also open a window with your word processing software on your computer (e.g., Word for Windows). Write your blog post using your own computer word processor. When you are finished, log in to Wikispaces (above). click "Edit," and click "Floating Toolbar" above.

Copy and paste post your post below, and then log off. Try to do so quickly in case other classmates are waiting to login to copy their post too.

Create a title for your post, and include the web link (make it an active link by clicking the first chain icon above). Bold the title of your post.

Here is a sample blog post:

Finger length correlated to bullying. I found this article, Science fingers natural bullies, published by The Sunday Times, Britain. It reports on research that suggests that "Childen whose ring fingers are much longer than their index fingers are more likely to be hyperactive and bullying," and relates this to prenatal testosterone level. I found the article very interesting -- that you could learn something about someone's (likely) personality simply by looking at their finger length. But, I then wondered why finger length would be influenced by prenatal testosterone levels... (more discussion...). -- Student ID: 4872, 9/14/2007

As noted above, be sure to add the last 4 digits of your student ID (or, if you wish you can use your name if anonymity isn't important to you). Add the date as well.

Copy and paste your new post to the top of our blog (not to the bottom).

Very important: after you paste your post, y//ou must click on the "Save" button, or your post will be lost, and you will not get credit.//

In addition, if you wish, you can also discuss and respond to the posts of others.

The day the bog post is due, please print a hardcopy of it, and turn it in to me during class. You will receive up to 5 points for each blog post.

We may review and discuss the most interesting blog posts in class. The authors of those selected posts will get an additional 2 points.

BLOG POSTS - FALL 2007 Add your post here at the top, and, when you re done, remember to scroll to the top of the page and click on "Save."

The article I read was called: Genes Exert Powerful Effect on Sexual Behavior. This work was found in Science Daily. It discusses the discovery of a single gene in female fruit flies that, when manipulated, causes male behavior. Through the process of several genetic manipulations, special "male-only" proteins were produced in females. In a physical sense, females did no resemble males but did so behaviorally. The gene that was manipulated was called the "fruitless" gene which is present in both male and females. The astonishing scientific revelation from this find was that a single gene, which was expressed in just a very small number of cells, controlled "surprisingly" complex behavior. This is especially shocking as there are 13,000 genes in its complete genome. This study suggests that there is a strong biological basis for sexual behavior and orientation. Human beings share several genes with fruitflies so this research may set the stage for future projects involving us. All research was conducted at Oregon State University- Student Id:5426 '* Winner of 5 extra points in this week's blog contest!

Positive correlation found between testosterone levels and begging behavior in the pied flycatcher.

I found this article entitled [| Nestling testosterone controls begging behavior in the pied flycatcher] on science direct (journal database) which involves a recent study done on the pied flycatcher, Ficedula Hypoleuca//. The study tested to see if testosterone levels affect the begging behavior seen in nestling pied flycatchers. The nestlings were given an oral dose of testosterone. Then begging behavior was then measured by observing the duration of the begging display in each bird and the length of each begging “stretch”. The study found that “an oral dose of T [testosterone] elevated circulating T levels and increased begging behaviour in nestling pied flycatchers at 7 days post-hatching”. I found this article to be very interesting because it clearly demonstrates how hormone levels can have a profound effect on an animal’s behavior. I also found it interesting that previously malnourished young may respond more strongly in their begging behavior to increased testosterone levels than well-fed young. It may be interesting to see if hormone levels have a similar effect on other species that show this begging behavior. Student Id: 5222. Posted: 10/4/2007.

Scientists Study Galapagos Hawk Genetics I found this article at [|], and it describes how a group of US Biologists studied DNA sequences of parasites of the Galapagos Hawk to determine how populations of these hawks may have colonized the islands. The researchers focused on genes from (3) species of feather lice that were restricted to the Galapagos Hawk. They also sequenced the same genes in the hawk to compare levels of genetic variation across related species. They concluded that since the parasite’s DNA was more variable than hosts, then “the parasite’s family tree revealed how four of the hawk’s eight populations were related to one another,” and that the hawk colonized all eight islands. I found this article interesting because there are still scientific discoveries being made in the same geographical area where Darwin conducted his breakthrough studies for the book On the Origin of Species.// Student ID #2647, 10/4/07.

Animal Imprinting The article that I found, called “Darling! You’ve sailed back to me”, gives an entertaining example of the process of ‘imprinting’ in animals. The author discusses the story of the swan from Germany, named Black Petra, that has become “fixated with the plastic swan-shaped pedalo (boat)” that she first came into contact with when she landed in the Aasee lake. Everyone believed she would only stay consumed with the boat for a short amount of time, however they were wrong. Scientists soon realized that the swan had bonded with the boat because she was biologically imprinted to do so. Birds naturally latch on to the very first thing that they see after birth, and for Black Petra, that was the plastic swan boat. It was interesting to see that imprinting is such a biologically powerful influence that it could have the unbelievable effect of a live animal becoming deeply attached to an inanimate object. – Student ID: 0084, 10/03/07

"Genes Determine Mate Choice, At Least for Fat Tailed Dwarf Lemurs" The article I read talked about how fat tailed dwarf lemurs choose their mates based on the genetics of the other mate because the female lemur will sniff the male to check his body odor and other qualities that ensure that his genetics are different than hers and to see if he is in a healthy state such as his immune system. Also these animals are monogamous but if the female interacts with another male that is better suited for her then she will cheat on her partner and mate with the other lemur that has better suited genes for her match and is healthier but she will not let the other know. The article was really interesting becuase it shows how the female lemur wants to ensure that her kin will have strong genetics and she will go to any extent to get these genes even if she cheats on her partner. Student ID: 943731219 10.03.07

Animal Sentience I found this article entitled “Animal Sentience”, which addresses the recent research on animals’ ability to feel pain, and pleasure at the least in response to its perceptions of its environment. It states that “Many of the animals we interact with turn out to have more complex mental and emotional lives than people have understood in the past.” It is interesting to note that many animals can actually remember past events and anticipate further events, and accordingly plan ahead. From learning to play fetch and anticipating a throw of a ball to anticipating the next move of their prey and preparing to attack, it is becoming scientifically obvious that animals have rather considerably complex thought processes and can respond with sentience. Animals have shown empathetic behavior towards other animals and have shown human like qualities such as boredom and acute distress or depression. As more research is collected, it becomes more and more evident that animals are not as distant mentally and emotionally from us as we might think. The author points out that this research is important to humans in influencing how we treat animals. Student ID: 2177; 10/2/07

Sexual Cannibalism The article I found relates to the discussion we had about sexual cannibalism in some species. In most species it is the female that eats the male, however, in some other species it has been documented that the male devours the female. The cannibalism can either take place before or after the mating process. According to the article sexual cannibalism has only been documented in arachnids, insects, and amphipods. Sexual cannibalism has been shown to have some benefits, the most obvious being nutrition. The Wikipedia article states that sexual cannibalism makes up 63 percent of the female Chinese Mantids diet. The nutritional factor of the cannibalism may help increase the quality and quantity of offspring, granted the male even gets the chance to mate with the female. The other benefit of sexual cannibalism listed by the article is natural selection. Males who are not good enough at distracting or holding down the female will be eaten and will not have their DNA passed onto the next generation. The article also suggested some strategies used by the males for distracting and/or paralyzing the female to resist being eaten during sex. Some species of scorpion sting the female while they mate with her, while some species of spider wrap the female in webbing to hold her before mating. Student id 97029, 10/4/2007

Humpback Whales Change Tune to Attract Mates I found this article, relating to the sexual behavior of humpback whales. The humpback whales apparently change their songs almost every year in order to attract other mates. In this particular case the humpback whales actually learn songs from whales visiting from other areas that have more success with mates than they do. The whales all were singing the song of the foreigner within a year of his visit. This means that humpback whales are probably predisposed to learning new songs from birth that are some of the most complex songs in the animal kingdom ranging from five to thirty-five minutes in length. From an evolutionary perspective, the whales have to adapt to learn songs as quickly as possible to have the greatest advantage in picking and getting a mate. Student ID: 8637 10/4/07

Animal Monogamy I was able to find an article relating to monogamous creatures in the animal kingdom. Monogamy among the animal kingdom is very rare. The importance of having multiple partners is to be able to pass on their genes to the following generations by having many offspring. The article speaks about how it is beneficial to both male and female species. The male is able to pass down his own genes to his offspring in order to keep them from dying out. The female is able to go around and pick out the best genes in order to ensure her offspring will have higher chances of survival. The article also mentions the existence of social monogamy vs. genetic monogamy. Social monogamy would be the raising of the children together as opposed to genetic monogamy which is being sexually faithful to one partner. Social monogamy is far more common than genetic monogamy among animals. Overall it is believed by researchers that monogamy begun when the offspring of some species had better chances of survival when raised by a monogamous pair, hence that may be why humans are for the most part monogamous. This raises the question of whether monogamy, something we as humans find to be morally right, is actually unnatural. Student ID: 5413 10/4/2007

Male chimpanzees prefer mating with old females

I found this article, , published by Current Biology. Martin Muller of Boston University and colleagues at Harvard university studying chimpanzee mating preferences have found that “although male chimpanzees prefer some females over others, they prefer older, not younger, females as mates.”

- student id: 2256, 10/11/2007.