Animal Behavior in the News

Find a news article or a scientific article about animal behavior (not just a website).  Does it address proximate or ultimate explanations of behavior? Explain how. 

Finally found a good one! In this article on bee behavior, both proximate and ultimate explanations are addressed in respect to the differentiation between nursing and foraging individuals. When bees come together, some individuals will remain in the hive to tend to the queen and larvae while others leave to collect pollen and other resources. Initially, there are 155 differences in the DNA of nursing and foraging bees, which decide which individuals will do which tasks.

These roles can change throughout the life of the bees, however. When describing the proximate mechanism for the change in the bees’ roles, you could look at the genetics. Remember, that proximate mechanisms explain how a behavior occurs. In this case, the genes of the bees change, and therefore the traits and behaviors of the bees change. The ultimate mechanism for this behavior, or why this process occurs, can be explained by the need for individuals at different roles. If the ratio of nurses to foragers is not exactly correct, the hive will not be as efficient as it could be. Therefore, the bees adjust, and change their roles until the ratio allows the hive to perform at maximum efficiency.


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