Ethology is the study of animal behavior. To study animal behavior, one of the tools we use is called an
An ethogram is a formalized catalogue of animal behavior that describes the full range of behavior your organism does in its environment. You need this catalogue so that if multiple observers are studying the same species, they are all on the same page as far as describing what they see. Ideally, you will observe as many individuals (same species) as possible to construct your ethogram. This will allow you to record the largest pool of possible behaviors—remember, the purpose of the ethogram is to make a catalogue of behaviors, so you want it to be comprehensive.
For this paper, you will collect two types of data. The first type of data is called
ad-lib observations, which are used to construct the ethogram. In this type of observation technique, you’re basically writing down and describing each different type of behavior you see, and the context in which you see it. You write down the behaviors as they occur within your observation period. For this assignment, you will spend a total of 2 hours conducting ad-lib observations.
Once you have described the full range of behaviors that your species exhibits, you will collect the second type of data. You will follow individual animals for a fixed period of time and record their behavior every minute (on the minute). We call this
focal animal sampling. In this type of observation, you don’t write down every behavior you see—you’re only interested in what your focal animal is doing at the specific moment (we usually collect data every minute on the minute for 15 minutes). You don’t record what the animal does in the interval. You also only record the behavior of the focal animal, not what the others in the enclosure are doing.