Condition-Dependent Behaviors

What does it mean for a behavior to be condition-dependent?  What kinds of conditions might be important?

Condition-dependent behaviors are the actions of organisms that are affected by changes in the environment. Aspects of the environment that may undergo change include climate, weather, predation and the availability of mates, shelter, water, food and other essential nutrients. It is essential that organisms react to these changes because they can potentially alter an individual’s ability to survive and reproduce. In different climate and weather conditions, organisms often must change their behaviors to maintain a healthy internal temperature. Creatures that serve as prey must also be observant of predation patterns, which often dictate times of activity and types of movements. In a similar way, all organisms must be able to respond to changes in resource availability. In areas of competition especially, individuals must be able to locate and consume the necessary resources, or face dire consequences. If, for example, the type of food that a creature normally eats suddenly becomes unavailable, it must either find something else to eat, find somewhere else where the food is available or die of starvation.


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