When examining animal behavior, these four questions are referred to as the levels of analysis. Scientists develop hypotheses corresponding to these questions to gain a better understanding of both the history and current function of a speciﬁc behavior.
Here is a sample analysis to help you better grasp how these questions should be approached.
EELS DEVELOP LARGER BODIES WHEN EXPOSED TO SALTWATER.
What is the process behind it?
Eels develop larger bodies when they are re-exposed to salts in saltwater.
How did the behavior develop? How does it change with experience and environment?
How does the behavior work?
Organizational hormones during the eel’s critical period primed the eel to develop larger bodies when newly exposed to salts.
What is the current function of the behavior? Why does it exist?
Eels develop larger bodies to intimidate other predators in the open ocean.
Why did the behavior evolve? What factors contribute to this?
Large bodies are an evolutionary advantage because it allowed a higher number of eels to survive the trip back to their breeding ground. Nathan Pokpongkiat / Winter 2018
A short guide and example analysis for Tinbergen's 4 Questions.