Ethograms ... ? Where might I find them?

ethograms (def., ethogram ē′thə-grăm″►

n. A systematic inventory listing and describing the behavioral patterns of an organism or a species.
n. A catalogue of the typical behaviour patterns of a specie

I did not know this word until I read this article today in the New York Times:

What Has Four Legs, a Trunk and a Behavioral Database?

From tens of thousands of hours of observation, scientists have compiled a detailed library of African elephant behavior.”

I Would not say this article is all that comprehensive, but it’s interesting and moving in the right direction.

This is actually more like the information I would like to find about organisms on INat.

I would enjoy reading more about organisms’ life cycles and natural behaviors. Wikipedia links often don’t seem to cover this.

Anyone know of any good resources for ethograms for (any) species?


One came to mind immediately. In Walter Auffenberg’s classic work on Komodo Dragons (“The Behavioral Ecology of the Komodo Monitor”, 1981), there is a Behavioral Inventory of 73 behaviors, including such classics as “Neck-sigmoid curve” (Neck in S-shaped curve), “Roach-up” (Median dorsal skin of neck and nuchal area raised), and “Food grab” (Food object abruptly picked up in or grasped by the mouth).

The introduction to this list includes this text, quoted from elsewhere: “the literature of reptile behavior is sorely deficient in complete, objective behavior inventories. The importance of the ethogram, long known to students of animal behavior and emphasized by Tinbergen (1969) and Beer (1963), is too often neglected.”

The Tinbergen reference is from “The Study of Instinct”, Oxford Univ. Press, New York…

The Beer reference isn’t listed in the literature cited section (?, I guess because it is a reference inside a quote from another reference, and isn’t otherwise mentioned in this book).

The whole quoted reference is from Greenberg, 1977, "An ethogram of the blue spiny lizard, Sceloporus cyanogenys (Sauria, Iguanidae). J. Herpetol. 11(2):177-95.

So there are a few more places to look, though none of them particularly fresh.


A very large number of ethograms have been published in the scientific literature. Many of them are linked to here:


I don’t know where to find many of them, but here’s the publicly-available one which my animal behavior professor used to explain the concept. It’s a visual diagram on gap-crossing behavior in ants.


For students interested in the general principles behind ethograms, Martin & Bateson’s MEASURING BEHAVIOR is a great resource.

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Wow!:flushed: These are really eye-opening!

@ethologist I looked at the insect crossing paper and was stunned by the scientific detail that went into the observations. The text was too small to read all of it and it’s a bit over my head, but, I’m impressed!

@dlevitis Now that is a gold mine of interesting studies to look at. I read one I could really relate to last night when I could not sleep (cat behavior using litter boxes under different circumstances):
I’ve bookmarked the search results and some other articles for later reading.

@sullivanribbit Komodo dragons are such weird animals and intriguing for so many reasons. I’ll have to see if I can rundown those sources.

Thank you all for these exciting leads for browsing in this field. I’m glad I looked at that article about elephants and learned a bit as I’d never heard of ethograms before. You all are the best!


I’ve been looking at the Elephant Voices ethogram and the organization and navigation seems especially user friendly.

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