Animal Behavior ‑ First Midterm Examination ‑ Fall 2007



READ THESE INSTRUCTIONS: The test has three sections. You will answer 3 questions (33 points each); you will answer one question from each section. 


For every question, don't assume I can make the same leaps in logic you might make. Explain yourself. You won't get rewarded for volume of words, but you need to tell me everything I need to know to understand your argument. If you can answer the question in a single word (doubt it), great. However, if you need more space, it should not exceed 2 pages.


Separate your answers with page breaks (i.e., don't put 2 answers on the same page) and put the letter of the question at the top of your essay so I will know which question you have chosen.


Section I. Everyone must answer this question:

A. This is Gary Larson's famous cartoon of the lemmings jumping off a cliff to prevent overpopulation. Pay particular attention to the small fellow with the innertube in the upper right hand corner of the picture. Use this cartoon to explain how Natural Selection works. In doing so, you should include the necessary conditions for a trait to be accessible to natural selection and what we mean when we say a trait is "adaptive"? Use your knowledge and this cartoon to explain why the idea that lemmings jump off the cliff for the good of the species may be difficult to defend. (NOTE: you can click on the figure to get a bigger image)











Section II. Answer of ONE the following:


B. Joe said "You can't prove anything". What did he mean by that? In your answer distinguish between a hypothesis and a prediction and explain how are they related within the context of the Scientific Method? Illustrate your explanation by outlining the following imaginary study The study will address the observation you made on your last trip to Africa, where you noticed that wild lions seem to sleep less than zoo lions. For your study, you can assume you have unlimited funds.


C. Leach's storm petrels leave their chicks alone in a nest underground on an island in the middle of the Bay of Fundy.  The island is also home to hawks and gulls which are visual predators. Adult petrels spend their days foraging on the ocean a hundred kilometers from the colony. They only return at night to feed the chicks. Often the island is fogged in and visibility at night drops to zero. a) Propose one "ultimate" and one "proximate" hypothesis to explain this nocturnal provisioning behavior. b) Propose one strong test for either of these hypotheses (includes hypothesis, predictions, design).




Section III. Answer of ONE the following:





D. A flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinu) was placed in cage with a treadmill for 150 days. When the squirrel ran on the treadmill, its activity was recorded. In this way, the squirrel's daily activity levels were monitored. Figure 1 (left) shows the squirrel's daily activity levels under various light: dark conditions. DD signifies days in which the squirrel was held in constant dark conditions. LD represents days in which the squirrel was exposed to "normal" light conditions. Dark lines represent periods of high activity. Explain the squirrel's activity levels with regard to biological clock mechanisms. Be sure to use and explain the appropriate terminology. (NOTE: you can click on the figure to get a bigger image)









E. I have a pet rat.  I want to get rich.  I decide I'll teach the rat to dive off a ladder into a bucket of water and we'll both run off with the circus.  What method should I use to teach the rat to do this?  Tell me how to do it in the most effective manner.  What does this have to do with anything in nature?



F. The figure to the left shows the sound intensity (volume/power) at which a certain species of moth can detect various frequencies of sound. Why isn't the curve a straight, horizontal line? Explain how this graph might relate to the notion of umwelt, filtering systems, and how a 40kHz sound might function as a Fixed Action Pattern (better explain what that means) in these moths. (NOTE: you can click on the figure to get a bigger image)