Territorial behavior

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A male of the cichlid Copadichromis azureus waits in the center of its crater-like sand nest in Lake Malawi for females ready to mate . Only the immediate nest area is defended against competitors.

As Territorial (also: territorial behavior ) are in the behavioral biology refers to all behaviors that the district make an animal or group of animals identified or which may it against other animals of the same kind to defend. This includes, in particular, the marking of the territory by scents or sounds ( e.g. birdsong ), threatening behavior and agonistic behavior . In this way, food competitors and sexual competitors are kept at a distance.


According to Grzimeks Tierleben , special volume on behavioral research , "territorial behavior has advantages not only for the individual animal but also for the population as a whole" as follows:

  • By demarcating territories, conspecifics are kept at a distance so that the species spreads over a larger area.
  • In the case of territorial species, only those individuals reproduce that can successfully occupy and defend a territory. Territorial behavior is therefore a mechanism for controlling offspring.
  • Individuals who could not occupy a territory form an intraspecific "reserve" and can replace territory owners who fall victim to enemies, accidents or diseases.
  • The relatively large distance between the whereabouts of young animals due to territories makes it difficult for potential predators to capture young animals, as they have to search and find each individual location separately.

What is to be distinguished from the hunting ground is the mostly larger grazing area , in which the animals only stay temporarily and which they do not defend. The roaming areas of several animals can overlap, but not their territories. The territory can therefore also be defined as that part of the grazing area that is defended against conspecifics.

The word territory behavior is also used to describe behavior patterns in humans , sometimes in a sarcastic way. But also from a scientific point of view, territorial behavior is one of the fundamental mechanisms of social behavior in humans.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Entry area behavior in Klaus Immelmann : Grzimeks Tierleben , special volume behavior research. Kindler Verlag, Zurich 1974, p. 635.
  2. Heinz-Ulrich Reyer: Forms, causes and biological significance of intraspecific aggression in animals. Chapter 25 in: Klaus Immelmann: Grzimeks Tierleben , special volume behavior research, pp. 365–366.
  3. Jürg Lamprecht: Tasks, classification and methods of behavioral research. Chapter 2 in: Klaus Immelmann: Grzimeks Tierleben , special volume behavior research, p. 34.
  4. Women and careers: the fight against "territorial behavior". On: n-tv.de from April 10, 2007.