Ethologie is called in the German linguistic area traditionally the “classical” comparative behavior research, occasionally in addition, completely generally behavior biology.

The Ethologie is thus a subsection of biology and closely connected with the work of Oskar Heinroth, Konrad Lorenz, Nikolaas Tinbergen, Irish from Eibl Eibesfeldt, the draft of an instinct theory as well as with the former institute for Max-Planck for behavior physiology. As important forerunners can Jean Henri Fabre be regarded, the instinct with the insects examined.

Those is science-historically regardedEthologie a neighbour discipline of the psychology.

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word meaning

the term „Ethologie " Ethos (= a character, spirit , moral) and Logos are derived from the Greek words (= word, language, reason). Translated „Ethologie means " thus „the teachingsof the character. Still into the 1970er years the terms instinct research, comparative behavior research and Ethologie of the researchers of this field of activity were used as synonyms [1]. Only in the transferred sense the term became „Ethologie “thus by the searchaccording to the internal causes from behavior completely generally to „the science of the behavior “transfer.

Outside of the German linguistic area “Ethologie” (English stands: ethology) usually completely generally for “behavior biology “.

historical background: Vitalists andMechanisten

already Charles Darwin had due to own breed experiments for many years (and. A. recognized by pigeons) that the frequently very complex behaviors of the animals must have developed due to the same regularities as their anatomical characteristics: thus due to coincidental variability of the particularsCharacteristics and their meaning in the survival fight of their carriers.

Still to in early 20. Century inside held themselves however and. A. vitalistic opinions so mentioned, which did not deny innate instinct behavior and pointed out even its appropriateness. They answered however the questionafter developing this appropriateness with the acceptance of a vitality (Latin vis vitalis, therefore: Vitalism), a natural force or the göttlichen steering element. This assumption in the long run supernatural forces blocked long time each scientific cause research. A prominent representative of this direction was Alfred trunk Wallace. Wallace applies beside Darwin as the founders of the modern evolution theory; it departed however far from all evolution-biological ways of thinking, as soon as it concerned the emergence of the instincts.

In sharp contrast to the vitalistic directions those stoodMechanisten so mentioned, which pointed all behavior as as it were passive reaction to external attractions, as a chain of reflexes (“reflex chain theory “). Their opinions were based particularly on the research results of the Nobelpreisträgers Iwan Pawlow and answered in the negative or ignored insideDrives. A prominent representative of this direction was beside Pawlow an US-American psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner, the most prominent researcher of the Behaviorismus.

the classical ethologische instinct research

a fundamental idiom took the behavior research by Oskar Heinroth, inits 1910/11 published studies for the first time also the word “Ethologie “in the today's sense were used. Heinroth had studied and with the fact had stated first the behavior of various goose and kinds of duck that certain movement ways (for example with the Balz) of animals of same sex andsame kind with always the same gestures and body attitudes to be implemented. Heinroth called such form-constant movements species-characteristic impulse actions and could point out that related kinds possess more or less strong modifications of such behaviors. From these exact behavior observations to an evolutionary interpretation of theirDeveloping was it then neither for Heinroth nor for its later pupil Konrad Lorenz a large step.

The ethologische instinct concept means that instinct movements are embodied in the hereditary property and can by key attractions be released, as long as an internal action-specific energy is present.The appropriateness of this interlinking outside trip, action readiness and specific behavior developed during the process of the evolution and serves in the long run kind preservation.

  • A oft-quoted example of such a instinct movement is the Eirollbewegung of the grey goose: If an egg (thatKey attraction) outside of the nest turns out, strains the goose their bill over the egg away and rolls the egg with the help of their bill back in the nest. This movement always runs off in the same way and becomes even then endled, if the egg is removed during the procedure from a test manager. This rigid, innate form of the behavior is considered as a species-characteristic impulse action in the sense of Oskar Heinroth and of Konrad Lorenz as hereditary co-ordination was designated.

Further technical terms of the instinct theoryare and. A.Innate release mechanism, Appetenz, no-load operation action, over jump movement as well as the coinage concept.

Characteristic for the ethologische instinct research on the one hand the stress of the open land research, thus observing the behavior under natural environmental condition, is on the other hand so-called Ethogramme:Those are behavior minutes, in which all possible behaviors are accurately described and listed in their temporal succession (e.g.: Food intake, sleeping, deseam themselves, fast run away, register from young animals to the nest). Thereby it becomes possible, both the frequency and sequencesto describe from behaviors qualitatively and quantitatively.


with the term instinct movement was to end of the 1960er - years the view connected, concern with in such a way interpreted behaviors purely innate activities. In the meantime the research hasbut ever more reference points for the fact found that such rigid reactions to external attractions are an exceptional case that inheritance and environment are closely interlocked also regarding individual behaviors with one another - many more closely anyhow, than assumes before.

behavior ecologyand Soziobiologie instead of Ethologie?

The concept of the instinct behavior in three phases (nondirectional Appetenz, taxi, final action) is for the description of the food acquisition suitably by booty grip arms, malfunctioned however already with herbivores.

  • In the still relatively recent area of the ecology, particularlyin population biology (see.The ecology) and therefore for example the food search and other decision-making processes in conflict situations are explained to the Ethökologie (behavior ecology) with the help of the concept of the cost benefit analysis (Decision Making/decisions to meet; Optimally/optimized fodder search forum-went).
  • Forthe investigation of social behavior developed beside the classical Ethologie the Soziobiologie as independent direction; important realizations furnish also today still behavioristische and experimental breed-biological beginnings.
  • Furthermore for the investigation of the evolution of behavior the game theory supplies fruitful beginnings.
[] Do innate

work on or do learn?

With difficulty to clarify is a basic question of the classical Ethologie whether behavior is innate or learned. The research methods developed in addition supply only rarely clear results. In the modern behavior research one assumes any behaviorgenetic bases has and by environmental influences to be always at the same time modulated can.

  • For example even the simplest „linkages of attraction reaction are “, the monosynaptic reflexes, substantially more complex than first accepted. Already the knee chord reflex points additional restraining synapses to the inhibition of the antagonist as well as ascending nerve connectionsto the brain up. It is not to be excluded the fact that the ontogenetische development of such reflexes as, on internal and outside factors depends many other parts of the nervous system (see Sehrinde).
  • The Kaspar house method (raising under experience withdrawal; most frequent experimental animal are here birds) can likewisenot for clarifying free of doubts of angeborenerer behavior portions to be consulted. Thus it depends also on environmental factors whether for example a singing bird accepts a kind-strange singing or not: One receives different results in the experiment, according to whether the kind-strange singing of the tape comesor by a living copy one produces.
  • The innate release mechanism (AAM) depends for example with the Sehsystem of humans on who environmental attractions affect during the earlychildlike development the Sehsystem and cannot thus when completely and innately free of doubts to apply. Alsothis example shows the fact that it in today's behavior biology no more around the poles „hereditaryconditionally or experience “can go. Rather it concerns the alternate influences from genes and environment during the ontogenetischen development of a behavior characteristic.


e.g. see. Katharina Heinroth in Grzimeks animal life, supplement behavior research, chapter. 1


  • Lorenz, Konrad: Over animal and human behavior. From the career/development of the behavior teachings. Collected papers. Volume 1 and 2. 1965: Munich (Piper).
  • Lorenz, Konrad: Comparative one Behavior research. Bases of the Ethologie. 1978: Vienna (Springer publishing house) (= The Foundations OF Ethology. 1992: Vienna)
  • Eibl Eibesfeldt, Irish from: Sketch of the comparative behavior research. 1987: Munich (Piper; 7. completely and extended edition revised)
  • Lorenz, Konrad: The natural science of humans. An introduction to thosecomparative behavior research. The “Russian manuscript”. 1992: Munich (Piper)

important Ethologen

the Netherlands writer Maarten 't hard was, before he dedicated himself completely to the letter, asLecturer in Ethologie actively.

Wiktionary: Ethologie - word origin, synonyms and translations

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