E.3b Learned Behavior

4. Discus how the process of learning can improve the chance of survival.

Moths learn by classical conditioning

  • moths vary in their ability to learn by classical conditioning (variation)
  • moths that are better at learning by classical conditioning will better associate black and orange caterpillars with noxious taste, and avoid getting sick, increasing survival chances (natural selection)
  • alleles allowing classical conditioning are passed on to offspring at a higher rate than alleles without classical conditioning ability (heritability)
  • thus, classical conditioning alleles accumulate (evolution)
  • and the trait becomes common in the population (adaptation)

Bears learn by trial and error/operant conditioning

  • bears vary in their ability to learn by operant conditioning (variation)
  • bears that experiment with various methods to catch salmon obtain more resources than those that don’t, increasing their survival chances (natural selection)
  • alleles that lead them to attempt operant conditioning are passed on to their offspring at a higher rate than alleles without operant conitioning ability (heritability)
  • thus, operant conditioning alleles accumulate (evolution)
  • and the trait becomes common in the population (adaptation)

Goslings imprint on their mothers

  • goslings vary in their ability to imprint (variation)
  • goslings that are able to imprint on their mother, will avoid predators by remaining close to her, increasing their chances of survival (natural selection)
  • alleles allowing imprinting are passed on to their offspring at a higher rate than alleles without imprinting ability (heritability)
  • thus, imprinting alleles accumulate (evolution)
  • and the trait becomes common in the population (adaptation)
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