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Animal behavior and offspring success

Review your understanding of animal behavior and offspring success in this free article aligned to NGSS standards.

Key points:

  • Many animals use sexual reproduction to have offspring. To do this, an animal typically mates with an individual of the opposite sex. Mating results in fertilization, and the production of offspring.
  • An animal’s reproductive success is related to the number of offspring it has during its life. An animal that has more surviving offspring likely has a higher reproductive success.
  • Animals carry out certain behaviors to increase their reproductive success.
    • Some behaviors increase the chance of producing offspring. These include displays that attract mates.
    • Other behaviors increase the chance that offspring will survive and be able to reproduce. These include protecting and feeding young offspring.
A male bird offering a seed to a female bird.
A male northern cardinal offers food to a female. This behavior increases the chance that the male and female will mate and have offspring. Image credit: “Northern Cardinal Pair " by Ken Thomas, public domain.

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