Social Ethology

Lorenz and Tinbergen usually studied solitary animals (monads ) and pairs of animals (dyads ). Starting in the 1960s, researchers started to put more emphasis on larger groups of animals. Crook (1970) proposed the term social ethology to describe this emphasis in animal research. The new ethologists focused on competition, communication, and cooperation between animals-how they acquired and maintained territories, maintained appropriate population levels, harvested food, defended themselves, regulated combat, and formed cooperative relationships.

How does social ethology contrast with most of the older, classic ethological work?

Animals who live in groups develop distinctive ways of interacting. Social ethology commonly involves predator/prey detection (tracking, avoiding), alarm responses (signals of danger shared with other prey animals), competition for status (threat displays, ritual combat, submission postures, tournaments, status hierarchies) and prosocial behavior (e.g. invitation displays, grooming, and play) plus the reproductive cycle—attracting a mate, mating, and raising offspring.


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