The ethology is a branch of zoology that is responsible for studying the behavior of animals . Ethologists take a comparative approach , studying the different behaviors that include aspects such as kinship , cooperation , sexual selection and aggression in a wide variety of species. Today, ethology has been largely superseded by behavioral ecology and evolutionary psychology . These fast-growing fields tend to place more emphasis onsocial relations than in the animal as an individual being; however, they retain the fieldwork tradition of ethology and its foundation in the theory of evolution.


What is ethology?

Ethology is the branch of zoology that is responsible for studying , describing and explaining the way in which animals behave through observation , in other words, it studies what animals do and why they do it.

  • What does ethology study
  • History
  • What is it for
  • Branches of ethology
  • Importance
  • Featured Ethologists
  • Ethology Books
  • Examples

What does ethology study

Etiology is a science and to some extent an art that studies the behavior of different animals . It seeks to discover why animals come to act in a certain way and why they act in this way through observation , which is why they are generally people who spend hours observing and studying behavior .



Ethology emerged as a discipline rather discreetly in the 1920s , which is why it is considered a new science , and it did so through the efforts of Konrad Lorenz , Karl von Frisch, and Niko Tinbergen , who jointly received the Nobel Prize. of Physiology or Medicine in 1973 for his contributions to the study of animal behavior . These scientists were influenced by the founding work of, among others, the ornithologists Oskar Heinroth and Julian Huxley and the American myrmecologist William Morton Wheeler, who popularized the term ethology in a seminal article in 1902.

What is it for

Ethology is a science that serves to carry out an adequate analysis on animal welfare , for the optimization of reproduction, to control the behavior of animals, especially if they are in captivity and to favor their adaptation . It is used to find signs and alterations in behavior, it also serves in the diagnosis of diseases , helps prevent the extinction of species , and of course, its main use is to understand the way in which animals and animals behave. mechanismsthat can influence these behaviors .

Branches of ethology

Ethology as a science is subdivided into several branches, among them we can mention the following:

  • Human ethology : the branch of ethology which is responsible for conducting studies and research on how they behave the humans . It was founded by Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt.
  • Veterinary ethology : it is the study of the behavior of animals mainly to obtain information related to their handling , diagnosis or evaluations of the health or welfare states of animals, to optimize production , improve behavior and treat possible disorders behavior with the objective of implementing management, feeding, genetics, health and reproduction plans.
  • Canine Ethology : the branch of biology of behavior that is responsible for studying the way in which they behave so naturally the dogs , focusing mainly on the behavior instinctual . A canine ethologist is a veterinary professional with knowledge about the behavior , needs and communication of the dog. They are highly recommended when we are faced with serious behavior problems , such as fear, aggressiveness or anxiety in pets.
  • Equine ethology : it is the branch of ethology that is based on the knowledge of horses mainly when they are in herds in their natural state , where the oldest mare in the group is the one who leads the rest of the herd and where the daughter of that mare will inherit her position.
  • Bird ethology: it  is the study of birds in order to see their behavior to find the best way to identify them and study the species, the places they prefer and how they behave in front of others.


Ethology, despite being a relatively new science has been of great importance since its inception, mainly because through it is to be able to perform a study right on the behavior presented by animals including the human being , whether they are in their natural habitat or living in captivity.

Featured Ethologists

Some of the most prominent ethologists worldwide are:

  • Konrad Lorenz:  zoologist and ethologist considered the founder of ethology . His studies made it possible to understand many patterns of animal behavior , especially birds.
  • John Broadus Watson who was the creator of behaviorism and ethologist.
  • Ian Dunbar:  veterinarian , animal behavior specialist , and writer . He received his doctorate in animal behavior from the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied olfactory communication , the development of hierarchical social behavior , and aggressiveness in domestic dogs.
  • Tinbergen : a Dutch ethologist , pioneer in the study of animal behavior, winner of a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1973.
  • César Millán: World famous canine behavior  specialist , known for his uncanny ability to control large packs .

Ethology Books

Some books written on this interesting branch are the following:

  • The Language of Animals (Stephen Hart)
  • How your horse thinks (Cherry Hill)
  • Ethology, comparative psychology and animal behavior (Fernando Colmenares)
  • Adaptive ethology (Juan Carranza)
  • Ethology (Main de Benoist and Konrad Lorenz)


Some examples of ethology are the following:

  • The mimicry that some insects develop in order to look like a branch and avoid being attacked by other insects or birds.
  • The camouflage that the chameleon uses to go unnoticed by its enemies.
  • The different types of courtship of some animals such as the earthworm, seahorse, lion, etc.
  • The behavior of animals such as Lemmings , which are a type of rodent that when the population grows too large and food and space are scarce, then massively throw themselves into the sea , drowning .
  • The swans when they fall in love are faithful to death with the chosen partner.

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