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UMBC Summer & Winter Blog

Featured Course: Animal Behavior

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When we think of social networks in the human world, the first things that come to mind are Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. But what kind of social networks are used in the animal world, a world outside of the internet? Do they even have social networks? The answer is yes, they do, and they use the next best thing – poo.

That’s right, poo.

Scientists have discovered that the dung odor of white rhinos is the animal equivalent of a status update. These updates are “posted” in middens – community toilets – which can then be “read” by other rhinos. The dung odors, which are made up of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are able to broadcast information ranging from a rhino’s age and sex, to whether a female rhino is in heat. Communal poo sites are essential to rhinos, who have poor eyesight, so they rely on their sense of smell to identify potential threats or mates within their community.

BIOL 480- Animal Behavior also examines why and how animals interact with each other and their environment; behavioral development; the genetics of behavior; habitat and sexual selection; mating systems; foraging and more.

BIOL 480 is a hybrid course that satisfies Writing Intensive GEP.

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