Courses on animal behavior
Name: Jennifer Dunekacke
Date: Around 1993
Is there such a science as animal behavior and what classes do I
have to take for it in high school and college?
Absolutely, Jennifer! Animal behavior is a very fascinating
field of science many scientists are involved in it. In high school, take
solid college prep classes, especially psychology, and biology. Get a good
foundation in math, too, because much of animal behavior studies rely on
statistics. In college, you would want to consider a major in biology or
psychology, or some mixture of the two. Again, math classes, like statistics
and even calculus are important. But you can start right now and be an animal
behavior "scientist": visit zoos and aquariums and learn to watch animals
closely. But, bring along a pad of paper and make some notes on how the
animals are behaving, like when do the lions sleep, do the dolphins swim in
groups, how do the giraffes eat, how do the monkeys play, how do the animals
react to people, and on and on. Learn to develop your skills of observation.
Even at home, watch for how birds act - when do they sing the most, where do
they go when it rains, and put up a bird feeder and watch when, what, how they
feed. There is hundreds of things you can do right now, which will help you
be a great animal behavioral scientist when you get older.
Boy is there! And what a wonderful thing to be interested in.
The science is called ethology (not ecology!). In college, students
interested in behavior study psychology and biology . One of the most
interesting things about ethology is how much can be explained in basic
biological terms. Scientists who are studying single nerve cells in the brain
are beginning to be able to talk to scientists who are studying behavior of
whole animals. One of the most interesting questions about behavior is how
much of it is determined by your genes and how much is learned later. I was
very interested in ethology when I was in high school, and spent many
interesting evenings reading books by the great ethologists Nikko Tindbergen
and Konrad Lorent. Tindbergen wrote a delightful book called "The Herring
Gull's World" (1960) Doubleday publishers. One of them wrote "King Solomon's
Ring", which was the first one I read. Lorenz discovered "imprinting", where
he showed that to a baby goose, "mother" was simply the first animal it saw.
He became mother to a bunch of geese just by letting them see him first in
their lives. Read any of their books and you will be hooked for life!
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Update: June 2012