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Unit: Ethology




Big Idea:

The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.


Enduring Understanding:

Explain how organisms within populations and within communities, interact through communication and behavior.


Required Reading:

  • Campbell: Chapter 51


    • Conversations with Fireflies: A Case Study of Mimicry and Defense

    • Mom Always Liked You Best

    • My Brother's Keeper 

    • Game Theory Activity 


Learning Objectives:By the end of this unit, you should be able to.... 


Explain how behaviors are the result of natural selection.


Explain and give examples of the differences between learned behavior and innate behavior.


Describe and explain how signed stimulus triggers fixed action pattern behavior.


Provide examples of how organisms use communication to increase fitness. Explain different forms of animal communication.  


Explain how experience and behavior interplay for different forms of learning.


Explain how individual survival and reproductive success can be used to explain most behavior.  


Describe how altruism and inclusive fitness accounts for the evolution of behavior. Explain "kin selection"











Below is a list of vocabulary terms used in this unit. By the end of the unit, you will be able to write a working definition of each term and correctly use each term.





ultimate innate Fixed-action pattern (FAP)
kinesis migration circadian rhythm
signal pheromones visual signals
auditory signals learning imprinting
associative learning classical conditioning operant conditioning
foraging optimal foraging model promiscuous
monogamous polygamous agnostic
inclusive fitness altruism kin selection





Extra Worksheets from past years/review/challenge materials:



Supplement Material/Websites:





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