Animal Responses

An animal's environment consists of a complex of elements, each of which varies over time, across space, in intensity. Most combine in additive fashion as they affect an animal.

Internal steady state

An animal normally maintains steady states over time in the various aspects of its internal environment. This mechanism homeokinesis is the general basis of environmental adaptation. When an animal perceives a threat or actual shift in some internal or external feature, it reacts to preempt or counteract that change. It attempts to keep an internal steady state, and thereby to survive and thrive. The essence of an animal's homeokinetic mechanisms is similar to that of a home's simple thermostat: a negative-feedback control loop.

Coping

An environmental adaptation refers to any behavioral, functional, immune, or structural trait that favors an animal's fitness its ability to survive and reproduce under given (especially adverse) conditions. When an animal successfully keeps or regains control of its bodily integrity and psychic stability, it is said to have coped.

A given stimulus complex provokes different responses by different animals, and even by the same animal from time to time. Tactics vary. Its response depends on the individual's inherent adaptability, accumulated life experiences, current adaptation status, and current ability to muster extraordinary responses.

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