Studying the behavior of animals in nature, The history of studying...

Studying the behavior of animals in nature

History of the study of animal behavior in nature

The views of the ancients about the instincts and minds of animals were formed on the basis of observing animals in their natural habitat. A huge contribution to the study and understanding of behavior was made by systematic observations of animals of different taxonomic groups, made by zoologists and naturalists. Until now, books by Charles Darwin, A. Brem, WA Wagner, J. Fabre, E. Seton-Thomson, G. Hagenbeck and other authors of the late 19th and early 20th centuries remain interesting and relevant. The active development of the experimental lines of the science of behavior in the first half of the 20th century. somewhat reduced the popularity of the purely descriptive methods used by zoologists-naturalists, and required from them the introduction of more accurate methods. The rapid development of technology made it possible to use fundamentally new methods, such as, for example, remote observation with the help of bio-telemetry, the use of radioactive isotopes, echolocation installations, etc.

It is impossible to study the behavior of animals in a white coat, spending on it a strictly certain time, regulated by the working day. In order to understand all the nuances of behavior, the object under investigation must be thoroughly studied. It is necessary to know everything about the animal: what it eats and what foods it prefers, when it sleeps and when it is awake, what material it chooses as a litter in the nest, etc. Observations directly in nature require many hours and months of ambush and multi-kilometer trails on the trail. The researcher has to wade through the thicket, climb mountains, get bogged down in swamps, and carry binoculars, a camera with a telephoto lens, a radio transmitter, etc.

The content of nontraditional laboratory facilities in captivity also requires near-clock attention. Animals are used to fall ill, fight, run away from the enclosures or give birth at the most unfortunate time. Therefore, you have to stay overnight at work or take the animals home. The researcher himself must be a jack of all trades: he must be able to build cages and houses, set up and repair radio equipment, computers, cars and boat motors, mow the grass, cut down meat, cook soups, cereals and compotes, make injections, take birth and do many other things. This work turns into a very special way of life, which is conducted by employees of zoos, biostations, reserves, vivaria and research laboratories. The family life of such an enthusiast can only develop with a like-minded person. History knows many examples of such married couples: for example, the wife of Schaller, Adamson, Kreisler, Van Lavik-Goodall, Lukina and Promptov, Golovanov and Pukinsky, as well as many other obsessed and winged people. The children of such parents sometimes grow up together with the experimental objects, and often they themselves serve them. An example of this can serve as a comparative study of children and young anthropoid apes.

In addition, animal behaviorists in nature often very zealously support the conservation of animals being studied and their habitats, which sometimes leads to severe conflicts with the local population or even local authorities. As a result of such conflicts, poachers Dayan Fossey, Joy Adamson, Leonid Kaplanov (a Soviet scientist who studied tigers in the Far East) and a number of other brave people died at the hands of poachers.

Since the middle of the last century throughout the world, and since the early 1960s. and in our country studies of the behavior of animals in natural and close to them conditions again acquire a wide scope. Behavior is becoming one of the main problems that all researchers studying animals are paying attention to. Only orthodox morphologists were left aside. During the last decades, both in our country and abroad, a huge number of printed works on this topic have been published, which it is impossible to analyze in this textbook. Therefore, we will only consider the main directions in which animal behavior studies in nature were conducted without touching a huge mass of literary sources, and mention only some of the leading figures, mainly United States science.

Interest in the behavior of animals has increased dramatically after the publication in our country of a number of popular science books written by Western authors and translated into United States. Among them, first of all, it is necessary to note the books of B. Grzhimek, D. Darell, J. Lindblad, R. Chauvin, J.-I. Kusto, N. Tinbergen, K. Lorenz, J. Lilly and others, who literally read as biologists, as well as many readers who had not the slightest relation to biology. Many of these books gave impetus to the beginning of specific directions in the study of animal behavior. For example, the books of the American biologist L. Chrysler Caribou Paths (1966) and the Canadian naturalist, ethnographer and writer Farley Mouet "Do not shout: wolves!" (1968), devoted to studying the behavior of wild wolves, caused a colossal wave of interest in these animals and generally contributed to the development of observations of the behavior of animals in the wild.

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