Behavioural ecology

All organisms are motile to some extent. Even plants express complex behaviour, including memory and communication.[111] Behavioural ecology is the study of an organism's behaviour in its environment and its ecological and evolutionary implications. Ethology is the study of observable movement or behaviour in animals. This could include investigations of motile sperm of plants, mobile phytoplankton, zooplankton swimming toward the female egg, the cultivation of fungi by weevils, the mating dance of a salamander, or social gatherings of amoeba.[112][113][114][115][116] Adaptation is the central unifying concept in behavioural ecology.[117] Behaviours can be recorded as traits and inherited in much the same way that eye and hair colour can. Behaviours can evolve by means of natural selection as adaptive traits conferring functional utilities that increases reproductive fitness.[118][119] Predator-prey interactions are an introductory concept into food-web studies as well as behavioural ecology.[120] Prey species can exhibit different kinds of behavioural adaptations to predators, such as avoid, flee or defend. Many prey species are faced with multiple predators that differ in the degree of danger posed. To be adapted to their environment and face predatory threats, organisms must balance their energy budgets as they invest in different aspects of their life history, such a

growth, feeding, mating, socializing, or modifying their habitat. Hypotheses posited in behavioural ecology are generally based on adaptive principles of conservation, optimization or efficiency.[31][108][121] For example, "[t]he threat-sensitive predator avoidance hypothesis predicts that prey should assess the degree of threat posed by different predators and match their behaviour according to current levels of risk"[122] or "[t]he optimal flight initiation distance occurs where expected postencounter fitness is maximized, which depends on the prey's initial fitness, benefits obtainable by not fleeing, energetic escape costs, and expected fitness loss due to predation risk."[123] Symbiosis: Leafhoppers (Eurymela fenestrata) are protected by ants (Iridomyrmex purpureus) in a symbiotic relationship. The ants protect the leafhoppers from predators and in return the leafhoppers feeding on plants exude honeydew from their anus that provides energy and nutrients to tending ants.[124] Elaborate sexual displays and posturing are encountered in the behavioural ecology of animals. The birds of paradise, for example, sing and display elaborate ornaments during courtship. These displays serve a dual purpose of signalling healthy or well-adapted individuals and desirable genes. The displays are driven by sexual selection as an advertisement of quality of traits among suitors.