Revision:Naturenurture imprinting and social behaviour

Nature - Innate behaviour

This is the behaviour that has been evolved over many generations, under the influence of natural selection. The behaviour is adapted to the animal's way of life and is shown by all members of the species.


Nurture --- Learned behaviour

This type of behaviour is learned by the individual animal throughout its life. There is often great variation among a species because it all depends on the environment and experiences of the individual animal.


Some animals are born in a relatively undeveloped, helpless state and very dependant on their parents for survival. These animals are known altricial animals.

  • Example: tree nesting birds, rats and humans.

Other animals are said to be precocial and are born almost fully developed and are able to move about.

  • Example: antelopes.

Altricial animals often follow the first thing they see after they are born. Usually it is the mother but sometimes it can be something very different. Sometimes if the imprinted object is another species, then the young may behave like its "foster parents". This is known as filial imprinting.

Sexual imprinting is when the animal starts to develop sexual preferences towards the species that it imprinted on, instead of its own species.

Social behaviour

For example lets take chickens. A group of chickens often have a hierarchy with the most aggressive chicken on top and the least aggressive at the bottom. The most aggressive often receives the most food and other necessities. As you go down the hierarchy there is less food available for the chickens.

Advantages of social behaviour

  • Efficient food collecting. For example honey bees work together to collect food. They do dances to indicate the magnitude and direction of food sources.
  • Defence against predators. Safety in numbers. For example. mongooses have lookouts to warn them of predators.
  • More efficient breeding. If they group is larger then there is more chance of finding a suitable mate.
  • Quicker and more efficient learning. The members of the society can learn from the mistakes made from the other members.