All of of research revolves around understanding animal behaviour; why a particular behaviour is performed in a particular situation, by a particular individual. Fundamental to unravelling the meaning and purpose of behaviours is having a detailed ‘catalogue’ of the variety of behaviours that your study species (in our case, grey seals) exhibits – this is an ethogram. An ethogram is tailored to fit the purpose of the study – it can be extremely detailed, describing a wide array of subtly different behaviours, or, very basic – at its simplest an ethogram could, for example, simply comprise of ‘Active’ and ‘Inactive’ (i.e. resting!) behavioural categories. Of course, for our studies we want to understand rather more detail about the behavioural make-up of our seals, so, all of our research team have used rather detailed ethograms for their work.
What we hope to do over the next few weeks is introduce you to just a few of the behaviours we have catalogued in our grey seal ethogram. We’ll provide a ‘formal’ definition of the behaviours from our ethogram, but we’ll also tell you rather more, for example, why we find that particular behaviour interesting, or unusual, or, puzzling!