Every living thing has a physical boundary that separates it from its external enviroment . Beginning with the bacteria and the simple cell and ending with man, every organism has a detectable limit which marks where it begins and ends. A short distance up the phylogenetic  scale, however ,another, non-physical boundery appears that exists  outside the physical one . This new  boundary is harder to delimit than the first but is just as real. We call this the “organisms teretory”. The act of iaying claim to and defending a territory is termed territorility . It is territoriality with which is most concerned . In man ,it becomes highly elaborated, as well as  being  very greatly defferentiated from culture to culture.

Anyone who is familiar with dogs,particularly in a rural setting suchas on ranches and farms, is familiar with the way in which the dog handles space. In the first place, the dog knows the limits of the master’s “yard” and will defend it against encroachment. There are also certain places where heb sleeps: a spot next  to the fireplace, a spot in the kitchen,  or one in thedining room if he is allowed there. In short a dog has fixed points to which he returns time after time, depending upon the occasion. One can also observe that dogs create zones around them. Depending upon his relationship to the dog and the zone he is in, a tresspasser can evoke different behavior when he crosses the invisible lines which aremeaningful to the dog .

This is particularly noticeable in females with puppies. Amother who has a new litter in a little- used barn will claim the barn as her territory. When the door opens she may make  a slight movement of stirring in one corner. Nothing else may happen as th intruder moves ten to fifteen feet into the barn. Then the dog may raise her head  or get up, circle about, and lie down as another invisible boundary is crossed. One can tell about where the line is by withdrawing and watching when her head  goes down. As additional lines are crossed , there will be other signals, a thumping of the tail, a low moan or a growl.

One can obsreve comparable behavior  in other vertebrates – fish,  birds, and mammals. Birds have will developed territoriality, areas which they defend as their own  and which they return to year after year.To those who have come back the robin to the same nest each year this will come as no surprise.Seals,Dolphin and Whales are known to use the same breeding grounds.Individual seals have been known to come back to the same rock year after year.

Man has developed his territoriality to an almost unbeleivable extent.Yet we treat space somewhat as we treat sex. It is there but we don’t talk about it. And if wedo , we certainly are not expected to get technical or serious about it.The man of the house is always somewhat apologetic  about “his chair”. How many people have had the experience of coming into a room, seeing a big comfortable chair and heading for it, only to pull themselves up short, or pauseand turn to theman and say, “Oh I was about to sitin your chair?” The reply, of course, is usually polite.For some unknown reason , our culture has tended to play down or cause us to repress and dissociate the feelings about space.We relegate it to the informal and are likely to feel guilty whenever we find ourselves getting angry because someone has taken our place.

By: Ms. Elvira Cordero | Master Teacher I | Pagalanggang National High School, Dinalupihan, Bataan

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