Animal Behavior Screencasts
Screencasts (video podcasts) hosted by Dr. David B. Miller Professor Emeritus at The University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, U.S.A. These screencasts were formerly used in Dr. Miller's Animal Behavior course from 2009 to 2017, prior to his retirement.
Development: Episode 9: Early Experience (FINAL EPISODE IN THIS SERIES)Nov 12, 2018 29:34
Early experience greatly affects behavioral development. Here we look at different ways of experimentally addressing how that takes place.
THIS IS THE FINAL EPISODE OF THE ANIMAL BEHAVIOR SCREENCASTS SERIES. ALL EPISODES WILL REMAIN AVAILABLE ON iTUNES.
Development: Episode 8: Reformulation of ImprintingNov 5, 2018 10:54
Description:Konrad Lorenz’s original imprinting question concerned species recognition in relation to mate selection. This reformulation drills down to individual recognition as a possible mechanism underlying incest avoidance in relation to a model of optimal outbreeding posited by Sir Patrick Bateson.
Development: Episode 7: Problems with ImprintingOct 31, 2018 11:45
Description:Imprinting is a powerful phenomenon, but the manner in which it is studied experimentally is sometimes questionable, ranging from the tasks that animals are required to do to demonstrate preferences to the issue of redirecting species-typical preferences toward species-atypical objects, as well as mis-imprinting.
Development: Episode 6: Critical PeriodsOct 22, 2018 16:57
Description:The concept of critical periods is often associated with imprinting as well as other phenomena ranging from experimental embryology to language development. The experimental study of critical periods, however, usually ignores a critical methodological problem, which is described here.
Development: Episode 5: ImprintingOct 15, 2018 14:17
Description:An examination of sexual and filial imprinting (social attachments) from an historical perspective.
Development: Episode 4: Behavioral EmbryologyOct 8, 2018 27:58
Description:Important events occur before birth or hatching, both in terms of embryonic movements and the influences of incoming sensory information. The extent of significant contributions to postnatal development can depend on how "altriciality" or "precociality" of the species. Related to this are the kinds of sensory systems that develop both prenatally and postnatally, including an interesting evolutionary constancy.
Development: Episode 3: ExperienceOct 5, 2018 42:34
Description:The ways that experience, both prenatal and postnatal, can affect behavioral development can often times be obvious (linear) or not so obvious (nonlinear). There are also 5 different ways in which either form of experience can greatly affect development, as discussed with many example in this screencast.
Development: Episode 2: Nature-Nurture ControversySep 24, 2018 41:46
Description:Developmental systems and a consideration of evidence inconsistent with genetic determinism, such as the C-value paradox and contextual & experiential activation of genetic activity. Also, epigenetics, and flawed views of so-called interactionism, as well as a description of the transactional view of development.
Development: Episode 1: General Conceptual IssuesSep 17, 2018 25:51
Description:To paraphrase animal behaviorists T. C. Schneirla and Niko Tinbergen, an understanding of animal behavior necessitates an understanding of how behavior actually develops, beginning prenatally. Here, we look at a few issues concerning developmental science, including multiple developmental pathways and continuity vs. discontinuity, including behavioral examples.
Communication: Episode 16: Ape Language ControversySep 14, 2018 30:36
Description:A look at the controversy surrounding the ape language controversy, including the apes Vicki, Washoe, Sarah, Lana, Sherman & Austin, Nim, Kanzi, and Panbanisha.
Communication: Episode 15: Other SensesSep 3, 2018 20:37
Description:Some nonhuman organisms use senses that are undeveloped in humans. As discussed here, these include electrical communication, magnetic sensitivity, surface wave communication, and dome pressure sensitivity.
Communication: Episode 14: TactileAug 27, 2018 6:49
Description:Many species communicate via touch (tactile communication), including allogrooming, allopreening, etc. Here, we look at some examples, including swarming onset by locusts and tandem running in ants.
Communication: Episode 13: OlfactionAug 20, 2018 9:06
Description:Many animals communicate via odor molecules. Here we look at comparative aspects of olfaction, including underwater odor communication as well as olfactory receptors in the antennae of cockroaches.
Communication: Episode 12: Vocal ImitationAug 13, 2018 4:15
Description:Some bird species have excellent abilities to imitate other species of birds as well as other sounds. This brief episode shows a few examples.
Communication: Episode 11: Song ComplexityAug 7, 2018 11:24
Description:Some animal vocalizations are relatively simple in acoustic structure, but many are also very complex and can be energetically costly to produce. So, why produce them? Here we examine some data on frog and bird vocalizations that offer possible explanations.
Communication: Episode 10: Methods of Studying Bird SongJul 30, 2018 18:34
Description:In an attempt to ascertain how some species of song birds learn their songs, researchers have developed techniques to disrupt auditory input as well as output and assess the results on adult song.
Communication: Episode 9: Bird Song Complexity, Mechanisms, and DevelopmentJul 23, 2018 24:37
Description:An examination of the complexity of bird song, the syrinx—a structure that is primarily responsible for it, and how song develops from nestlings to adults.
Communication: Episode 8: Sonic & Symbolic CommunicationJul 16, 2018 16:17
Description:How nonhuman animals use sounds within the human hearing range to refer to specific items, such as threats from potential predators as well as food items.
Communication: Episode 7: Ultrasounds & InfrasoundsJul 10, 2018 31:02
Description:Many nonhuman species send and receive auditory signals outside the range of human hearing. Low-frequency infrasound and high-frequency ultrasounds play numerous roles, as discussed here.
Communication: Episode 6: Infrared & Ultraviolet CommunicationJul 2, 2018 15:52
Description:Infrared & ultraviolet senses are used extensively by a wide variety of nonhuman organisms, even though these senses are outside the range of visible light to which humans are sensitive. Some examples shown here involve California Ground Squirrel tail wagging, avian mate choice, Jumping Spider courtship, and butterfly wingspots.
Communication: Episode 5: BioluminescenceJun 25, 2018 15:53
Description:Bioluminescence is a form of visual communication involving pulses of light produced by specific organs in a variety of species, such as deep-sea fishes, jellyfishes, and fireflies.
Communication: Episode 4: Visual CommunicationJun 11, 2018 21:10
Description:Various aspects of how animals communicate visually, including the waggle dance of honey bees, how honeyguides help Boran people locate honey, asymmetrical tail-wagging of dogs that reflect different emotional states, and mockingbird recognition of threatening humans.
Communication: Episode 3: LocalizationJun 5, 2018 8:33
Description:Locating the source of an animal vocalizing ranges from relatively easy to quite difficult, and it all depends on structure of the signal. Easy-to-localize sounds are used for specific purposes, and difficult-to-localize sounds are used for other purposes, as discussed in this screencast.
Communication: Episode 2: Physical AspectsMay 29, 2018 38:28
Description:How nonhuman organisms deal with environmental noise to enable effective communication. Noise includes signal attenuation and signal degradation, and has effects on stimulus detection and stimulus recognition.
Communication: Episode 1: Definition & Neuronal MechanismsMay 23, 2018 19:13
Description:The definition of communication is complex and somewhat controversial. We'll explore why that's the case, and then move on to some neuronal mechanisms enabling effective communication.
Mating Behavior: Episode 7: Mating SystemsMay 18, 2018 30:49
Description:Different species have different mating systems that characterize the primary (though not solely) means under which reproduction occurs. Here, we examine perennial & seasonal monogamy, polygamy, including polygyny & polyandry, and promiscuity, including lekking species. Human mating systems are culture-specific.
Mating Behavior: Episode 6: Breeding SynchronyMay 8, 2018 7:20
Description:An examination of 3 reasons why some species of nonhuman organisms breed synchronously: Optimal Resource Availability; Social Foraging; and, Avoiding Predation.
Mating Behavior: Episode 5: SpeciationMay 6, 2018 13:06
Description:An examination of sexual selection in relation to speciation, including runaway sexual selection and sensory exploitation.
Mating Behavior: Episode 4: InbreedingApr 26, 2018 14:00
Description:Deleterious effects of inbreeding in lions, and mechanisms of incest avoidance in zebra finches via female choice of male song, and incest compensation in shore birds via extra-pair mating.
Mating Behavior: Episode 3: Female Choice of MateApr 19, 2018 16:55
Description:When it comes to sexual selection, males court females, and females choose with whom to mate (with a few exceptions). Thus, female choice of mate is critical, and here we describe examples of this as well as related phenomena such as the Handicap Principle, disruptive selection, and sexual dimorphism not caused by sexual selection.
Mating Behavior: Episode 2: Male DominanceApr 9, 2018 18:36
Description:Males compete for females in a variety of ways: competitive mate searching, various mechanisms of sperm competition, and overt conflict. This screencast portrays each of these with a variety of examples.
Mating Behavior: Episode 1: Sexual SelectionApr 2, 2018 14:42
Description:The Darwinian concept of sexual selection, explored through examples of sexual dimorphism, how females can benefit by being choosy when selecting a mate, what cues females might use to assess potential mates.
Hormones & Semiochemicals: Episode 4: PheromonesMar 26, 2018 24:34
Description:Pheromones are semiochemicals that typically communicate within a species for such purposes as territory marking and sexual behavior. Occasionally, they might operate between species, as we'll see in this screencast.
Hormones & Semiochemicals: Episode 3: AllelochemicsMar 19, 2018 11:57
Description:Allelochemics are semiochemicals (i.e., chemicals that have either communicative value or anti-predator benefits) that communicate between different species. Three subclasses of allelochemics are allomones (that benefit the sender), kairomones (that benefit the receiver), and synomones (that benefit both the sender and receiver). Examples are shown of each of these substances.
Hormones & Semiochemicals: Episode 2: Interaction of Hormones & BehaviorMar 12, 2018 15:10
Description:The reproductive behavior of ring doves has been investigated thoroughly beginning with the pioneering studies by Daniel S. Lehrman and his associates. His work, which is described here, nicely illustrates how external environmental factors cause the release of hormones, which, in turn, triggers behaviors, which, in turn cause the release of other hormones that affect all aspects of reproduction (courtship, incubation, parenting).
Hormones & Semiochemicals: Episode 1: Activational & Organizational Effects of HormonesMar 6, 2018 25:16
Description:An examination of how how hormones have an immediate (activation) effect and how they have a longer-term (organizational) effect on behavior.
Domestication: Episode 3: Degeneration vs. ContextFeb 27, 2018 35:44
Description:What happens to animals during the domestication process? Is their behavioral altered in a way that renders them “abnormal,” or are any observed behavioral changes due to the context in which domestic animals are maintained? The Russian geneticist Dimitri Belyaev investigated behavioral and physical changes in foxes, and more recent studies have examined behavioral changes in ducks.
Domestication: Episode 2: Domestication as a Social ProcessFeb 21, 2018 31:42
Description:Domestication is viewed as one of several social processes involving a "guest" as the exploiting species and a "host" as the exploiting species. Other processes include symbiosis, scavenging, robbing, social parasitism, and taming. Each of these are presented with examples.
Domestication: Episode 1: Introduction to DomesticationFeb 13, 2018 19:55
Description:The process of domestication as analogous to natural selection, examples of domesticated animals, including an historical perspective leading back to Darwin. Also, experimental studies of artificial selection, and the steps necessary to create domestic breeds.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 10: Development and EvolutionFeb 7, 2018 15:29
Description:An examination of changes in timing of developmental events over evolutionary time—a phenomenon known as "heterochrony," which covers both accelerated development across evolution as well as neoteny, a slowing down of developmental events.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 9: Cultural EvolutionJan 30, 2018 21:56
Description:Ways in which cultural evolution can occur and numerous examples in a birds, nonhuman primates, and whales.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 8: Hyperselectionism & ExaptationJan 23, 2018 19:57
Description:Here, we explore whether every behavior has necessarily been selected for its current role, or if they were originally selected for a different role. The term “exaptation” helps to distinguish between these alternatives, as we consider a number of examples.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 7: AdaptationJan 16, 2018 32:21
Description:Numerous examples of animal adaptation among a wide variety of species, including the relationship between adaptation and speciation illustrated by Darwin's Finches.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 6: SpeciationJan 11, 2018 19:27
Description:Examples of ecological speciation, ecological character displacement, and geographic isolation, as mechanisms by which speciation can occur.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 5: Rates of EvolutionJan 7, 2018 9:59
Description:Is the rate of evolutionary change gradual or rapid? This screencast explores the Darwinian rate of gradualism vs. salvationism, or punctuated equilibrium. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 4: AltruismJan 2, 2018 27:51
Description:Examples of altruism and reciprocal altruism, plus mechanisms of kin recognition.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 3: Altruism, Cooperation, HybridsDec 27, 2017 25:05
Description:Examples of altruism, cooperation, kin selection, and animal hybrids.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 2: Units of SelectionDec 24, 2017 7:33
Description:A discussion about 3 units of natural selection: Individual (Darwinian), Genic, and Group Selection, and how Group Selection is not necessarily inconsistent with Individual Selection.
Evolution & Adaptation: Episode 1: Evolution ScorecardDec 24, 2017 15:13
Evolution's scorecard in terms of its coverage in schools in the United States. Also, a brief look at how creationism may have played a role in undermining the public's understanding of evolution. Finally, a look at
Darwin's "missing evidence"—industrial melanism.