How, within the lifetime of an animal, does behavior develop? Development usually involves an interesting interplay between genetically programmed changes and environmentally influenced behavior. In spectacular cases, such as fish which can change gender depending on the presence of a dominant animal in their social group, the role of environment is critical. In other cases, such as sexual maturation in most birds and mammals, the timing of behavioral changes is coordinated with other aspects of life history. Parenting behavior usually only develops in the presence of young animals, but priming to express parental behavior may be linked to season, pregnancy, and age. Development, because of this intertwining of genetic and experiential factors, is one of the most complex and interesting aspects of animal behavior.

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copyright ©2003 Michael D. Breed, all rights reserved.