Cyclic Behavior


From the Latin circa, meaning "about," and the Latin dian, meaning "day"

figure 44-14

Monarch butterflies migrate hundreds of miles to spend their winters in central Mexico.

figure 44-14

Monarch butterflies migrate hundreds of miles to spend their winters in central Mexico.

Animals display a variety of cyclic behaviors that are synchronized with changes in their environment. These behaviors generally develop as a result of temperature changes, variations in availability of food, or likelihood of predation.

Biological Rhythms

During the day, gorillas are busy foraging but during the night, they rest. A daily biological cycle is called a circadian (suhr-KAY-dee-uhn) rhythm. Predators have evolved biological rhythms in response to the activity of their prey. For example, mice are active at night, and as a result, owls are also active at night.

Many marine animals that live along the shore have biological cycles related to the tides. Tidal cycles are also called lunar cycles because the tide is determined by the phases of the moon. For example, fiddler crabs on the eastern coast of the United States emerge from their burrows at every low tide (twice every 24 hours).

There are also annual biological cycles. Some animals go into a period of inactivity and lowered body temperature during the winter when food is scarce. This type of behavior is called hibernation. Some hibernating animals, such as ground squirrels, drop their body temperature to a few degrees above freezing and do not wake for weeks at a time.

Migratory Behavior

Migration is a periodic group movement that is characteristic of a population or species. There are many types of migration. The monarch butterflies, shown in Figure 44-14, migrate hundreds of miles each year to winter in Mexico. Salmon migrate from their ocean habitat into streams to breed, then back to the ocean. Migration is exhausting and risky yet it allows animals to find habitats with plentiful seasonal foods and provides nesting sites safe from predators.

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