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Encyclopedia > Behavioral ecology

Behavioral ecology is the study of the ecological and evolutionary basis for animal behavior, and the roles of behavior in enabling an animal to adapt to its environment (both intrinsic and extrinsic). Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after Niko Tinbergen (a seminal figure in the study of animal behavior), outlined the four causes of behavior. These four causes can be grouped into two larger classes: (ultimate causes and proximate causes). Ernst Haeckel coined the term oekologie in 1866. ... This article is about evolution in biology. ... Ethology is the scientific study of animal behaviour (particularly of social animals such as primates and canids), and is a branch of zoology. ... Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior considered as a branch of zoology. ... Nikolaas Tinbergen (April 15, 1907 - December 21, 1988) was a noted ethologist and ornithologist who shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Karl Von Frisch and Konrad Lorenz for their discoveries concerning organization and elicitation of individual and social behaviour patterns. ... In Philosophy a Proximate Cause is an event which is closest, or immediately responsible, for producing some observed result. ...


Ultimate causation

The two causes that contribute to ultimate causation are phylogenetic contingencies that contribute to the development of behavior and the second is adaptive significance. Phylogenetic constraints are generally factors that might stop certain lineages developing certain behavioral or morphological traits. Hence, it is no coincidence that generally birds are able to fly and mammals cannot. The evolutionary history of these lineages have made it profitable for birds to fly and for mammalian feet to remain planted on the ground. Adaptive significance is akin to asking what a trait is good for in an evolutionary context. Therefore, the adaptive significance of flight in birds might have enabled avian ancestors to escape from predators. However, it is not sufficient to apply these explanations where they seem convenient. These have been labeled Just So Stories by some biologists after Rudyard Kipling's tales for children about how animals came to be the way they are. To be rigorous, one must suppose a hypothesis and then test it scientifically. Hence, for avian flight, one can suppose that when birds are not at risk of being eaten, they might lose the ability to fly. This has been observed in bird faunas on oceanic islands such as New Zealand. Historically these land masses had no mammalian predators and so had a higher proportion of flightless bird species compared with avifaunas exposed to mammalian predation. A phylogeny (or phylogenesis) is the origin and evolution of a set of organisms, usually of a species. ... Aves redirects here. ... Suborders Nematocera Brachycera Dance fly male Empis tesselata The flesh fly, Sarcophaga carnaria Close-up of the head of a blow-fly. ... Subclasses Allotheria* Order Multituberculata (extinct) Order Volaticotheria (extinct) Order Palaeoryctoides (extinct) Order Triconodonta (extinct) Prototheria Order Monotremata Theria Infraclass Marsupialia Infraclass Eutheria The mammals are the class of vertebrate animals characterized by the production of milk in females for the nourishment of young, from mammary glands present on most species... This snapping turtle is trying to make a meal of a Canada goose, but the goose is too wary. ... See also Just-so story for anthropological sense Wikisource has original text related to this article: Just So Stories The Just So Stories for Little Children were written by British author Rudyard Kipling. ... Joseph Rudyard Kipling (30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was a British author and poet, born in India, and best known today for his childrens books, including The Jungle Book (1894), The Second Jungle Book (1895), Just So Stories (1902), and Puck of Pooks Hill (1906); his novel... For the fictional superstate in George Orwells novel, see Oceania (Nineteen Eighty-Four). ...

Proximate causation

Proximate causation is also divided into two factors which are ontogenetic factors and mechanistic factors. Ontogenetic factors are the entire sum of experience throughout the lifetime of an individual from embryo to death. Hence, factors included are learning the genetic factors giving rise to behavior in individuals. Mechanistic factors, as the name implies, are the processes of the body that give rise to behavior such as the effects of hormones on behavior and neuronal basis of behavior. Ontogeny (also ontogenesis or morphogenesis) describes the origin and the development of an organism from the fertilized egg to its mature form. ... Hormone is also the NATO reporting name for the Soviet/Russian Kamov Ka-25 military helicopter. ...

Optimization theory

Behavioral ecology, along with other areas of evolutionary biology, has incorporated a number of techniques which have been borrowed from optimization theory. Optimization is a concept that stipulates strategies that offer the highest return to an animal given all the different factors and constraints facing the animal. One of the simplest ways to arrive at an optimal solution is to do a cost/benefit analysis. By considering the advantages of a behavior and the costs of a behavior, it can be seen that if the costs outweigh the benefits then a behavior will not evolve and vice versa. This is also where the concept of the trade-off becomes important. This is because it rarely pays an animal to invest maximally in any one behavior. For example, the amount of time an ectothermic animal such as a lizard spends foraging is constrained by its body temperature. The digestive efficiency of the lizard also increases with increases in body temperature. Lizards increase their body temperature by basking in the sun. However, the time spent basking decreases the amount of time available for foraging. Basking also increases the risk of being discovered by a predator. Therefore, the optimal basking time is the outcome of the time necessary to sufficiently warm itself to carry out its activities such as foraging. This example shows how foraging is constrained by the need to bask (intrinsic constraint) and predation pressure (extrinsic constraint). Evolutionary biology is a subfield of biology concerned with the origin and descent of species, as well as their change, multiplication, and diversity over time. ... In mathematics, the term optimization refers to the study of problems that have the form Given: a function f : A R from some set A to the real numbers Sought: an element x0 in A such that f(x0) ≤ f(x) for all x in A (minimization) or such that... Cold-blooded organisms, more technically known as poikilothermic, are animals that have no internal metabolic mechanism for regulating their body temperatures. ... Foraging just means looking for food (or, metaphorically, anything else). ...

Differential reproductive success

Ultimately, all behavior is subject to natural selection as with any other trait of an animal. Therefore animals that employ optimal behavioral strategies specific to their environment will generally leave greater numbers of offspring than their suboptimal conspecifics. Animals that leave a greater number of offspring than others of their own species are said to have greater fitness than their suboptimal cousins. However, over time environments change meaning that what might be good behavior today might not be the best behavior in 10,000 years time or even 10 years time. Recent glaciation and future global warming mean that one thing will be certain. The behavior of animals has and will continue to change in response to the environment. Behavioral ecology is one of the best ways to study these changes. As the great geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky famously wrote, "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." The Galápagos Islands hold 13 species of finches that are closely related and differ most markedly in the shape of their beaks. ... Global mean surface temperatures 1856 to 2005. ... Theodosius Grigorevich Dobzhansky (Russian — Феодосий Григорьевич Добржанский; sometimes anglicized to Theodore Dobzhansky; January 25, 1900 - December 18, 1975) was a noted geneticist and evolutionary biologist. ...

Evolutionary stable strategies

Another driving force in the evolution of animal behavior is the concept of an evolutionary stable strategy (or ESS), a term derived from economic game theory which became prominent after John Maynard Smith's 1982 book, Evolution and the Theory of Games. However, the concept can be traced back (as with most evolutionary ideas) to W.D. Hamilton, R.A. Fisher and Charles Darwin. In short, evolutionary game theory asserts that only strategies that cannot be "invaded" by another strategy will be maintained in the population. Therefore, animal behavior can be said to be governed not only by what is optimal, but also by what other strategies are found in the population. Furthermore, the relative frequencies of each strategy can influence the fitness of the other strategies in the population (frequency dependence). It is important to consider that evolution is not only driven by the physical environment, but also the interactions between other individuals. The evolutionarily stable strategy (or ESS; also evolutionary stable strategy) is a central concept in game theory introduced by John Maynard Smith and George R. Price in 1973 (a full account is given by Maynard Smith, 1982). ... Game theory is most often described as a branch of applied mathematics and economics that studies situations where players choose different actions in an attempt to maximize their returns. ... Professor John Maynard Smith[1], F.R.S. (6 January 1920 – 19 April 2004) was a British evolutionary biologist and geneticist. ... Book cover Evolution and the Theory of Games is a 1982 book by the British evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith on evolutionary game theory. ... This article is about the British biologist Bill Hamilton. ... Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher, FRS (17 February 1890 – 29 July 1962) was a British statistician, evolutionary biologist, and geneticist. ... For other people of the same surname, and places and things named after Charles Darwin, see Darwin. ... Evolutionary game theory (EGT) is the application of game theory in evolutionary biology. ... In game theory, a players strategy, in a game or a business situation, is a complete plan of action for whatever situation might arise; this fully determines the players behaviour. ... Frequency dependent selection is the term given to an evolutionary process where the fitness of a phenotype is dependent on its frequency relative to other phenotypes in a given population. ...

See also

The gene-centric view of evolution, gene selection theory or selfish gene theory holds that natural selection acts through differential survival of competing genes, increasing the frequency of those alleles whose phenotypic effects successfully promote their own propagation. ... Human behavioral ecology (HBE) or human evolutionary ecology applies the principles of evolutionary theory and optimization to the study of human behavioral and cultural diversity. ... Life history theory is a method of analysis in animal and human biology, psychology, and especially evolutionary sociobiology which postulates that many of the physiological traits and behaviors of individuals may be best understood in relation to the key maturational and reproductive characteristics that define the life course. ... In behavioural ecology, the marginal value theorem considers optimal forager who is exploiting resources that occur in patches, and who must decide when to quit a patch and move on to the next one. ... In mathematics, optimization is the discipline which is concerned with finding the maxima and minima of functions, possibly subject to constraints. ... Selection is hierachically classified into natural and artificial selection. ... Sickle-shaped red blood cells Balancing selection refers to forms of natural selection which work to maintain genetic polymorphisms (or multiple alleles) within a population. ... In population genetics, directional selection (sometimes referred to as positive selection) occurs when natural selection favors a single allele and therefore allele frequency continuously shifts in one direction. ... Disruptive selection is a type of natural selection that simultaneously favors individuals at both extremes of the distribution. ... Stabilizing selection, also known as purifying selection or negative selection, is a type of natural selection in which genetic diversity decreases as the population stabilizes on a particular trait value. ... In ecology, r/K selection theory relates to the selection of traits (in organisms) that allow success in particular environments. ... In ecology, r-selection (note: lower case r) relates to the selection of traits (in organisms) that allow success in unstable or unpredictable environments. ... In ecology, K-selection (note : upper case K) relates to the selection of traits (in organisms) that allow success in stable or predictable environments. ... Somatic effort refers to the total investments of an organism in its own development, differentiation, and maintenance and thus consequently increasing its reproductive potential. ...

External links

  • The Four Areas of Biology


  • J.R. Krebs and Nicholas Davies, An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology [ISBN 0-632-03546-3]
  • J.R. Krebs and Nicholas Davies, Behavioural Ecology: an evolutionary approach [ISBN 0-86542-731-3]

(These two are respectively first/second college year level, and third/fourth college year level) Sir John Richard Krebs (born 1945) is a British biologist and a Fellow of the Royal Society. ... Sir John Richard Krebs (born 1945) is a British biologist and a Fellow of the Royal Society. ...

  • Maynard Smith, J. 1982. Evolution and the Theory of Games.



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