Thursday, August 20, 2009

Live Blogging Professional Scientific Conferences - International Ethological Conference

I am at the 31st Annual International Ethological Conference in Rennes, France. Ethology means the study of animal behavior in relation to its habitat with an emphasis on behavioral processes. So why don't just call it animal behavior? Well, because there is more than one way to look at animal behavior and scientists who study animal behavior which include (psychologists, ethologists, applied animal behaviorists, and behavioral ecologists). In fact, there are at least 4 ways to examine animal behavior and thankfully we all agree to these - they are called the Tinbergen's Four Questions which are considered the "spine of ethology".

1. Development
2. Mechanisms
3. Function
4. Evolution

Ethologists comprehend that in order to fully comprehend animal behavior we must understand not only what animals do, but when they do it, under what circumstances they do it, what objectives the behavior meets, and the historical reasons why animals do what they do. Some animal behavior scientists focus on one area or the other, but together we pool our research results, come to meetings and put our heads together to get a better idea of animal behavior.

Each day of the IEC conference is organized around one of the Tinbergen's 4 Questions. And I’ll share highlights of the meeting and the scientific research being discussed.

Ethologists attending the conference.


Now, it’s your turn. Go on an Urban Science Adventure Animal Behavior Research Challenge.

What I love about animal behavior science is a branch of science that comes so naturally to almost anyone; and you don’t have to have expense equipment or supplies to make some really exciting discoveries. Animal Behavior is neat because anyone, including you, can observe animals and begin studying animal behavior. The very act of close watching and taking notes is a part of the necessary work of animal behavior research.

Visit your Special Sanctuary and pick an animal that visits there often. It can be an insect, bug, bird, frog, squirrel or even pets like dogs and cats.
Watch one animal very closely for 10 minutes. This is your focal animal.
Jot down notes as to watch what this animal is doing -- such as running, climbing, eating, resting, interacting with another animal, etc.
Watch this one animal for the whole time. Hopefully, you are keeping a natural journal of all of your outdoor adventures. If not, start your nature journal now.

Now, you are doing real-live observational animal behavior research.
Observe your focal animal as often as you like - daily, weekly or several times a day.
Later, try observing more than one animal, but only after you spend 10 minutes watching the first animal.
Are there many different species at your Special Sanctuary? Observe these animals, too.
Do they behave differently?
Can you identify different individuals from the same species?
Can you notice any individual differences in their behavior?

Write me and tell me all about your Urban Science Adventures! ©


Darcella said...

Do my two dogs count? What about the 8 million bunny rabbits in the lot next to me. Or the horrible possum that is taunting my dogs?

Vetmomof2 said...

I want a postcard. Shall I send you my address via email or DM on Twitter?

Unknown said...

I would love a postcard, my address is 5660 Kingsbury Pl #315, St Louis, MO 63112, 314-258-0362. How many times can I vote?

Your cousin,
La'Vaka Tarleace Brown

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