A range of animal behaviors
Change in behavior in lizards throughout natural selection

Ethology is a branch of zoology that studies animal behavior, usually with a scientific focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait.[1] Behaviourism as a term also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, usually referring to measured responses to stimuli or to trained behavioral responses in a laboratory context, without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity.[2] Throughout history, different naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century,[3][4] including Charles O. Whitman, Oskar Heinroth, and Wallace Craig. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, the three recipients of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.[5] Ethology combines laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to some other disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Ethologists typically show interest in a behavioral process rather than in a particular animal group,[6] and often study one type of behavior, such as aggression, in a number of unrelated species.

Ethology is a rapidly growing field. Since the dawn of the 21st century researchers have re-examined and reached new conclusions in many aspects of animal communication, emotions, culture, learning and sexuality that the scientific community long thought it understood. New fields, such as neuroethology, have developed.

Understanding ethology or animal behavior can be important in animal training. Considering the natural behaviors of different species or breeds enables trainers to select the individuals best suited to perform the required task. It also enables trainers to encourage the performance of naturally occurring behaviors and the discontinuance of undesirable behaviors.[7]

  1. ^ "Definition of ethology". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  2. ^ "Definition of behaviorism". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
    "Behaviourism". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  3. ^ "Guide to the Charles Otis Whitman Collection ca. 1911". Retrieved 21 September 2022.
  4. ^ Schulze-Hagen, Karl; Birkhead, Timothy R. (1 January 2015). "The ethology and life history of birds: the forgotten contributions of Oskar, Magdalena and Katharina Heinroth". Journal of Ornithology. 156 (1): 9–18. doi:10.1007/s10336-014-1091-3. ISSN 2193-7206. S2CID 14170933.
  5. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1973". Retrieved 9 September 2016. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1973 was awarded jointly to Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz and Nikolaas Tinbergen 'for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns'.
  6. ^ Gomez-Marin, Alex; Paton, Joseph J; Kampff, Adam R; Costa, Rui M; Mainen, Zachary F (28 October 2014). "Big behavioral data: psychology, ethology and the foundations of neuroscience" (PDF). Nature Neuroscience. 17 (11): 1455–1462. doi:10.1038/nn.3812. ISSN 1097-6256. PMID 25349912. S2CID 10300952.
  7. ^ McGreevy, Paul; Boakes, Robert (2011). Carrots and Sticks: Principles of Animal Training. Darlington Press. pp. xi–23. ISBN 978-1-921364-15-0. Retrieved 9 September 2016.

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