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6.9: Key Terms

  • Page ID
    191512
    • Karin Enstam Jaffe

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    Abundance: How much food is available in a given area.

    Adaptation: A trait with a function.

    Affiliative: Nonaggressive social interactions and associations between individuals.

    Agonistic: Conflict; aggressive interactions between individuals.

    Alarm calling: Vocalizations emitted by social animals in response to danger.

    Analogy: A similar trait found in different species that arose independently.

    Anogenital: Relating to the anus and genitals.

    Breeding season: The time of year when females are receptive to mating.

    Callitrichids: The primate family that includes marmosets and tamarins.

    Carnivores: Organisms whose diet consists primarily of animal tissue.

    Coalition: A temporary alliance between individuals.

    Community ecology: The branch of ecology that deals with the relationships and interactions between different organisms that occupy the same habitat.

    Comparison: An examination of the similarities and differences between two things, such as two primate species.

    Conspecifics: Members of the same species.

    Cooperative breeding: When individuals other than the mother and father help raise the offspring.

    Crypsis: The ability to avoid detection by other organisms, such as predators.

    Cultural tradition: A distinctive pattern of behavior shared by multiple individuals in a social group, which persists over time and is acquired through social learning.

    Culture: The transmission of behavior from one generation to the next through observation and imitation.

    Decolonize: Understanding and highlighting the theory and research of non-Western individuals and perspectives.

    Descendant: A species that comes after the ancestor species.

    Direct competition: Competition that involves physical interaction between individuals, such as fighting.

    Dispersal: To leave one’s group or area. This may or may not involve joining another group.

    Distribution: How food is spread out.

    Diurnal: Active during the day.

    Dominance hierarchy: The ranked organization of individuals established by the outcome of aggressive-submissive interactions.

    Dominant: Being of high rank.

    Ecology: The relationship between organisms and their physical surroundings.

    Ecotourism: A form of tourism that focuses on nature-based attractions to provide learning opportunities and that uses economically and ecologically sustainable practices.

    Ethology: The study of animal behavior.

    Fission-fusion: Societies in which group composition is flexible, such as chimpanzee and spider monkey societies. Individuals may break up into smaller feeding groups (fission) and combine into larger groups (fusion).

    Fitness: An individual’s ability to survive and reproduce relative to other members of the same species.

    Folivores: Organisms whose diet consists primarily of leaves.

    Foraging: The act of searching for food.

    Frugivores: Organisms whose diet consists primarily of fruit.

    Grooming: Picking through the fur of another individual for cleaning or bonding purposes.

    Heterospecifics: Members of different species.

    Holism: The idea that the parts of a system interconnect and interact to make up the whole.

    Home range: The area that a group or individual uses over a given period of time (often over a year).

    Homology: A similar trait found in different species because it was inherited from a common ancestor.

    Immigration: Movement of an individual into a new group or community.

    Indirect competition: Competition that does not involve physical interaction between individuals, such as eating food before another individual arrives at the food site.

    Infanticide: The killing of infants of one’s own species.

    Innate: Natural; as in behavior that comes naturally.

    Insectivores: Organisms whose diets consist primarily of insects.

    Interbirth interval: The typical length of time between one birth and the next for a species.

    Intersexual selection: The selection for traits that enhance the ability of the members of one sex to attract the attention of the other.

    Intrasexual selection: Selection for traits that enhance the ability of members of one sex to compete amongst themselves.

    Mating system: A way of describing which male(s) and female(s) mate.

    Metabolism: The chemical changes that take place in an organism that turn nutrients into energy.

    Mobbing: Cooperatively attacking or harassing a predator.

    Monogamy: A mating system in which one male mates with one female.

    Multi-male, multi-female: A group that consists of multiple adult males, multiple adult females, and their dependent offspring.

    Multi-male, single-female: A group that consists of two or more adult males, one breeding female, their dependent offspring, and non-breeding females.

    Mutualistic/mutualism: When different species work together, with each benefiting from the interaction.

    Niche: The role of a species in its environment; how it meets its needs for food, shelter, etc.

    Nocturnal: Active at night.

    Olfactory communication: Conveying information through scent.

    Omnivores: Organisms whose diet consists of plant and animal matter.

    Pair bond: A strong, long-term relationship between two individuals.

    Parasite: An organism that lives in or on another organism.

    Parental investment: Any time or energy a parent devotes to the current offspring that enhances its survival (and eventual reproductive success) at the expense of the parent’s ability to invest in the next offspring.

    Philopatric: Remaining in the group of one’s birth.

    Piloerection: Raising one’s hair or fur in an effort to look bigger.

    Polyandry: A mating system in which multiple males mate with a single breeding female.

    Polygamy: A mating system in which multiple males mate with multiple females.

    Polygyny: A mating system in which one male mates with multiple females.

    Polyspecific association: An association between two or more different species that involves behavioral changes in at least one of them to maintain the association.

    Primate community: All primate species that occur in an area.

    Primatologist: A scientist who studies primate behavior and/or ecology.

    Primatology: The scientific field that studies primate behavior and/or ecology.

    Ranging behavior: Refers to the way in which animals move about their environment.

    Receptive: A term used to describe females who are ready for sexual reproduction (i.e., not pregnant or nursing).

    Reproductive success: An individual’s genetic contribution to future generations, often measured through the number of offspring produced.

    Reproductive suppression: The prevention or inhibition of reproduction of healthy adults.

    Resident male: Term that describes the male who lives with a group of females.

    Seed dispersal: The process by which seeds move away from the plant that produced them in preparation for germination and becoming a new plant.

    Semantic communication: The systematic use of signals to refer to objects in the environment.

    Sexual dimorphism: When males and females of a species have different morphological traits.

    Sexual selection: The selection for traits that increase mating success. This occurs via intersexual selection and intrasexual selection.

    Sexual swelling: Area of the hindquarters that change in size, shape, and often color over the course of a female’s reproductive cycle, reaching maximum size at ovulation. Occurs in many primate species that live in Africa and Asia.

    Sexually monomorphic: When males and females of a species have similar morphological traits.

    Single-male, multi-female: A group that consists of one adult male, multiple adult female, and their dependent offspring.

    Single-male, single-female: A group that consists of one adult male, one adult female, and their dependent offspring.

    Social learning: The idea that new behaviors can be acquired by observing and imitating others.

    Social system: A way of describing the typical number of males and females of all age classes that live together.

    Social transmission: Transfer of something from one individual to another; this can include parasites, information, or cultural traditions.

    Sociality: The tendency to form social groups.

    Solitary: Living alone.

    Species recognition: The ability to differentiate conspecifics from members of other species.

    Subordinate: Being of low rank.

    Tactile communication: Conveying information through touch.

    Territory: A home range whose boundary is defended from intrusion by conspecifics.

    Vertebrates: The group of animals characterized by an internal spinal column or backbone. This includes fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.

    Vigilance: Watchful behavior used to detect potential danger, usually in the form of predators or potential competitors.

    Visual communication: Conveying information through signals that can be seen.

    Vocal communication: Conveying information through signals that can be heard.


    This page titled 6.9: Key Terms is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Karin Enstam Jaffe (Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.