Innate Behavior

Innate behaviors, more commonly called instincts, are inherited actions that are performed effectively the first time without being taught. An orb spider, for example, builds her web the same way every time. There is very little variation in what she does, and all her female offspring will build their webs in a similar manner without being taught.

Fixed Action Pattern

A fixed action pattern is a rigid innate behavior that all members of a species perform the same way each time they perform it. Figure 44-3 shows an Eastern hognose snake displaying a fixed action pattern in response to a predator. The snake spreads its jaws, hisses, and rolls on its back when threatened. Individuals that perform this behavior are less likely to get eaten and more likely to reproduce than individuals that do not perform this behavior.

Fixed action patterns continue from start to finish without modification once an environmental stimulus triggers them. However, there are still factors that influence whether an animal will perform this behavior or not. For example, Greylag geese retrieve eggs that have rolled out of the nest the same way every time. They will also retrieve other objects that are similar in shape or size to an egg. However, only mother geese retrieve eggs that have rolled out of the nest, and they only perform this behavior between the time of egg laying and hatching.

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