Animal Behaviour Study

Animal Behaviour Study will allow your A-level students to carry out their own research into the behaviour of our squirrel monkeys. During this exciting session students will conduct interval sampling on digital tablets to make structured observations of animal behaviour, and record their data to allow them to analyse and interpret their results afterwards. Through this they will consider how and why we do scientific research at the Zoo, and how we apply this knowledge in our conservation work. [NB: If the squirrel monkey exhibit is unavailable a different species may be used for observations.]

Animal Behaviour Study

Age group: Years 12 and 13 (AS and A-Level, Ages 16–18)

Duration: 50-55 minutes

Capacity: 35 pupils

Learning Space: Land of the Lions classroom and squirrel monkey enclosure

 

Please be aware that some of this session will be held outside. Students should wear appropriate clothing and footwear. 

 

Exam Board Specification Links:

2015 AQA AS and A-Level Psychology (7181 and 7182)

  • Research Methods
  • Scientific Processes
  • Approaches in Psychology

2015 OCR AS and A-Level Psychology (H167 and H567)

  • Research methods and techniques
  • Planning and conducting research
  • Data recording, analysis and presentation
  • Practical activities

2015 EDEXCEL AS and A-Level Psychology (8PS0 and 9PS0)

  • Topic 4 Learning Theories
  • Topic 9 Psychological Skills (A Level only)

2015 AQA AS and A-Level Biology (7401 and 7402)

  • Genetic diversity and adaptation
  • Handling data

2015 Edexcel AS and A-Level Biology A (8BN9 and 9BN0)

  • Topic 4 Biodiversity and natural resources
  • Working Scientifically and Mathematical Skills

2015 Edexcel AS and A-Level Biology B (8BI0 and 9BI0)

  • Topic 3 Classification and Biodiversity
  • Working Scientifically and Mathematical Skills

2015 OCR AS and A-Level Biology A (H020 and H420)

  • Module 1 Development of practical skills in biology
  • Module 4 Biodiversity, evolution and disease
  • How Science Works and Mathematical Requirements

2015 OCR AS and A-Level Biology B (H022 and H422)

  • Module 1 Development of practical skills in biology
  • Module 3 Cell division, development and disease control
  • How Science Works and Mathematical Requirements

 

Intended learning outcomes:

Most students will be able to:

  • Suggest methods that could be used to study the behaviour of a particular animal in the Zoo and make predictions about what behaviours might be observed
  • Use interval sampling techniques on digital tablets to make structured observations and collect data about the behaviour of squirrel monkeys
  • Begin to interpret the results of their study to describe their animal’s behaviour and draw conclusions

Some students will be able to:

  • Discuss the strengths and limitations of the method used and suggest a follow-up study to extend the research
  • Explain the importance of studying animal behaviour in Zoos and in the wild, and how this can contribute to wider conservation work

 

For this session:

Before your Visit

Students can:

  • Carry out research in groups into one of the following Zoo animals:
    • Humboldt Penguins
    • Western Lowland Gorillas
    • Meerkats
    • Ring-tailed Lemurs
    • Sumatran Tigers
  • Find out about each animal’s behaviours, lifestyle and any threats they may be under. Two very useful websites are www.arkive.org and www.iucnredlist.org.
  • Visit the ZSL video channel and find at least one video for each animal. Watch the videos and create a list of all the different behaviours seen for each type of animal. For example, eating, foraging, sleeping, playing, grooming.
  • Use this list of behaviours to complete this template (ethogram) for each animal, which can be used to collect data during the Zoo visit: PDF icon A-level Animal Behavior Study ethogram and discussion points (85.66 KB)

While at the Zoo

Students can:

  • Your students could participate in a double session by also booking the Post-16 Animal Learning and Intelligence .  Animal Learning and Intelligence students will explore the reasons why we consider certain animals “intelligent” or “not intelligent”, and the theories surrounding how animals learn.
  • Visit the animals researched previously and work in groups to collect data about the behaviour of these animals, using the ethograms created in school: PDF icon A-level Animal Behavior Study ethogram and discussion points (85.66 KB). (Don’t forget to bring clipboards, pencils and stopwatches).
  • Make notes about any interesting behaviour observed, and what stimulus it was in response to. Try to spot the difference between instinctive and learned behaviour, and think about how these behaviours might help the animals in the wild.
  • Answer the follow up questions on the reverse of the ethogram PDF icon A-level Animal Behavior Study ethogram and discussion points (85.66 KB).

After your visit

Students can:

  • Collate the class data from the animals observed, and create graphical representations of the data, for example using activity budget pie charts.
  • Compare and contrast results from different species, and different individuals within a species and consider why these differences may have occurred. What proportion of the behaviour was instinctive and what proportion was learned? Is there any evidence to suggest the mechanisms by which the different animals learn?
  • Plan a follow up study on one of the animals that could be carried out at the Zoo or in the wild, to find out more about their behaviour or how they learn. How might this information help care for the animal in the Zoo or conserve the animal in the wild?