A range of animal behaviours
Change in behavior in lizards throughout natural selection

Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually with a focus on behaviour under natural conditions, and viewing behaviour as an evolutionarily adaptive trait.[1] Behaviourism as a term also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, usually referring to measured responses to stimuli or to trained behavioural responses in a laboratory context, without a particular emphasis on evolutionary adaptivity.[2] Throughout history, different naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour. Ethology has its scientific roots in the work of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) and of American and German ornithologists of the late 19th and early 20th century,[citation needed] including Charles O. Whitman, Oskar Heinroth (1871-1945), and Wallace Craig. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen (1907-1988) and of Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch (1886-1982), the three recipients of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.[3] Ethology combines laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to some other disciplines such as neuroanatomy, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Ethologists typically show interest in a behavioural process rather than in a particular animal group,[4] and often study one type of behaviour, such as aggression, in a number of unrelated species.

Ethology is a rapidly growing field. Since the dawn of the 21st century researchers have re-examined and reached new conclusions in many aspects of animal communication, emotions, culture, learning and sexuality that the scientific community long thought it understood. New fields, such as neuroethology, have developed.

Understanding ethology or animal behaviour can be important in animal training. Considering the natural behaviours of different species or breeds enables trainers to select the individuals best suited to perform the required task. It also enables trainers to encourage the performance of naturally occurring behaviours and the discontinuance of undesirable behaviours.[5]


The term ethology derives from the Greek language: ἦθος, ethos meaning "character" and -λογία, -logia meaning "the study of". The term was first popularized by American myrmecologist (a person who studies ants) William Morton Wheeler in 1902.[6]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Etologie
asturianu: Etoloxía
azərbaycanca: Etologiya
Bân-lâm-gú: Hêng-ûi-ha̍k
башҡортса: Этология
беларуская: Эталогія
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Эталёгія
български: Етология
bosanski: Etologija
català: Etologia
čeština: Etologie
dansk: Etologi
Deutsch: Ethologie
eesti: Etoloogia
Ελληνικά: Ηθολογία
español: Etología
Esperanto: Etologio
euskara: Etologia
français: Éthologie
Gaeilge: Eiteolaíocht
galego: Etoloxía
한국어: 동물행동학
հայերեն: Էթոլոգիա
Bahasa Indonesia: Etologi
interlingua: Ethologia
italiano: Etologia
עברית: אתולוגיה
ქართული: ეთოლოგია
қазақша: Этология
Кыргызча: Этология
Latina: Ethologia
latviešu: Etoloģija
lietuvių: Etologija
magyar: Etológia
Bahasa Melayu: Etologi
Nederlands: Ethologie
日本語: 動物行動学
norsk nynorsk: Åtferdsbiologi
occitan: Etologia
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Etologiya
Piemontèis: Etologìa
polski: Etologia
português: Etologia
română: Etologie
русский: Этология
Scots: Ethology
shqip: Etologjia
sicilianu: Etuluggìa
Simple English: Ethology
slovenčina: Etológia
slovenščina: Etologija
српски / srpski: Etologija
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Etologija
suomi: Etologia
svenska: Etologi
Tagalog: Etolohiya
татарча/tatarça: Этология
tetun: Etolojia
Türkçe: Etoloji
українська: Етологія
اردو: خلقیات
Tiếng Việt: Tập tính học
Winaray: Etolohiya