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By Marine Parker, doctoral student in ethology and Sandrine Vialle, ethologist

What is ethology?

ethos: “morals”, logia: “study of”. Appearing at the beginning of the 20th century in the footsteps of zoology and psychology, ethology is a scientific discipline which studies morals, or more concretely, behavior. This discipline is interested in all animal species (including humans), in their natural environment or in captivity, from a cognitive, evolutionary, ecological, developmental, comparative point of view, etc.

What is behavior?

The result of nature and nurture, behavior is a response to an internal or external stimulus. Specific to each person, it is observable and contributes to maintaining the individual's homeostasis, that is to say, maintaining a certain internal balance. Learning, interactions,   vocalizations, etc. all the ways in which an animal reacts to a given situation are behaviors.

Why study behavior?

Behavior is a descriptor of the species. It is an observable and objectifiable response, which transcribes the capacities and the internal state of the animal. It can make it possible, for example, to interpret intraspecific interactions (within a species), interspecific (between two species), or even animal-environment interactions, or to find the principles common to behaviors (e.g.: food research strategy). Applied, the study of behavior is a real weapon in the conservation and protection of sensitive species (e.g.: impact of habitat changes) and in many other ecological areas (e.g.: crop pollination, population control, etc.). ).

How to study it?

The ethologist or ethologist answers questions by observation. You have to be very attentive! We can use video/audio analysis and monitoring technologies to observe the reactions, abilities, interactions and habits of a species. With an empirical approach, the ethologist observes behaviors, formulates hypotheses, questions these behaviors and develops experimental tools to test these hypotheses.

Where does an ethologist work?

Ethology is primarily a research discipline. The majority of ethologists are found in laboratories or in the natural environments of the species they study. But some can apply it in zoos, shelters, wherever we try to improve or adapt the living conditions of animals.

Jane Goodall, primatologist, British Ethologist 

Boris Cyrulnik, Jane Goodall, Ivan Pavlov, Diane Fossey
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