Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology

Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology

Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology

Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology

Synopsis

Evolutionary Behavioral Ecology is intended to be used as a text for graduate students and a sourcebook for professional scientists seeking an understanding of the evolutionary and ecological processes shaping behavior across a wide array of organisms and a diverse set of behaviors. Chapters are written by leading experts in the field, providing a core foundation, a history of conceptual developments, and fresh insight into the controversies and themes shaping the continuing development of the field. Essays on adaptation, selection, fitness, genetics, plasticity, and phylogeny as they pertain to behavior place the field in the broader context of ecology and evolution. These concepts, along with a diversity of theoretical approaches are applied to the evolution of behavior in many contexts, from individual decision-making of solitary animals through to complex social interactions. Chapters integrate conceptual and theoretical approaches with recent empirical advances to understand the evolution of behavior, from foraging, dealing with risk, predator avoidance, and an array of social behaviors, including fighting and cooperation with conspecifics and conflict and cooperation between the sexes. The material emphasizes integrative and novel approaches to behavior, including cognitive ecology, personality, conservation biology, the links between behavior and evolution, the evolution of human social behavior, and ways in which modern genetic analyses can augment the study of behavior.

Excerpt

An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a
source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment
.

—Sir David Attenborough, September 2004, during a
break from filming bolas spiders at the University of
Kentucky’s Spindletop Farm

The diversity of ways in which organisms interact with their environment, including members of their own species, other species, and the abiotic world, is astounding. The field of behavioral ecology explores the role of behavior in these interactions. Behavioral ecologists are typically interested in a functional understanding of behavior: why do animals behave the way they do, and make the decisions that they make? How are animal decisions and behaviors shaped by evolution in response to ecological and/or social conditions that they experience? Such questions have turned out to be surprisingly complicated, requiring a diversity of approaches, from mathematical modeling to biogeographic analyses to field manipulative studies, and integration among fields of study, including psychology, evolutionary biology, physiology, molecular biology, and even economics, among others. The insights gained by behavioral ecologists have generated considerable controversy over the years, spurring the field to move in new directions. Two of the most deservedly famous individuals in behavioral ecology are John Krebs and Nick Davies. Though the study of behavioral ecology did not start with them, its definition as a field of study was in large part due to their immensely influential book, Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach, published in 1978. That single book pulled together the variety of behaviors and ideas that had been the focus of researchers interested in functional explanations. Through four editions, the latest in 1997, the Krebs and Davies volumes brought both conceptual clarity and empirical excitement to the field. Probably every practicing behavioral ecologist has gained insights from these volumes. Although these editions still make for compelling reading and provide excellent . . .

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