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Animal Behaviour: Mechanism, Development, Function and Evolution


Author: Chris Barnard

Publisher: Pearson Education Canada


Publish Date: November 13, 2003

ISBN-10: 130899364

Pages: 756

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Animal behaviour has been one of the most exciting and fastest-growing scientific disciplines of recent years. Its impact on the whole way we think about biology has spawned lucid ‘best sellers’ such as The Selfish Gene and widespread scientific and public debate about our view of the natural world and our place in it. This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of behaviour, from its basis in the animal’s anatomy and physiology to its adaptive value in the environment. It is aimed at undergraduate students in the biological sciences and psychology and is designed to serve as both a detailed introduction and an extensive, up-to-date source of reference enabling students to pursue topics in the primary literature. Animal behaviour is a subject rich in debate, much of it fundamental to our understanding of biology as a whole. The book therefore highlights issues currently occupying researchers and examines their implications for underlying theory and empirical studies. The overall theme of the book is evolutionary, showing how the different levels at which behaviour can be studied ultimately relate to the consequences of behaviour for the animal’s reproductive success – mechanism and development serve function through evolution, as it says in Chapter 2.

The book begins by asking the most basic questions of all: what do we mean by ‘behaviour’, and what does the apparent purposefulness of many behaviour patterns imply about the organisms performing them? This leads to a consideration of Tinbergen’s four levels of inquiry (the ‘Four Whys’) as a framework for posing questions about behaviour, and a brief review of the various traditions of behaviour study (ethology, comparative psychology, behavioural ecology and evolutionary psychology) to provide historical anchor points for different approaches and ideas. Chapter 2 then discusses the evolution of behaviour and its main theoretical cornerstones, using these to establish the evolutionary theme running through the remaining chapters. Mechanism is examined in Chapters 3 and 4, first in terms of the animal’s physiological systems, then from a motivational perspective. Different models of motivation are compared along with the implications of motivational theory for intentionality and cognition, and ultimately our views on suffering and welfare in other species. Chapter 5 focuses on the effects of genes in behavioural development. Arguments over the shorthand ‘genes for behaviour’ language of selfish gene theory are examined, along with examples of what it might mean in different behavioural systems, and the relationships between genes at the level of the genome are discussed in the light of recent ideas about genetic conflict. This is followed in Chapter 6 by a consideration of maturation and learning, looking in particular at how developments in learning theory have begun to blur the classical distinctions between different types of learning that still pervade the literature. Chapters 7–11 deal with the behavioural ecology of decision-making in some of the major functional contexts of the animal’s life: finding a place to live, foraging for food, avoiding predators, social behaviour, reproduction and communication. The book rounds off by looking at the behaviour of our own species, and our ability to account for it within the theoretical frameworks applied to other organisms. The discussion throughout is wide-ranging, but each chapter contains several features that are designed to make navigating and assimilating information easier. These include:
o an outline header at the start, indicating the main points to be covered;
o boxed features summarising key concepts, theories or debates underlying the main discussion;
o extensive cross-referencing to other chapters;
o a full summary of conclusions at the end;
o a list of recommended further reading to enable issues to be followed up.

Brief contents
1 Questions about behaviour 1
2 Evolution and behaviour 33
3 Physiological mechanisms and behaviour 94
4 Motivation and cognition 167
5 From genes to behaviour 220
6 Maturation and learning 255
7 Habitat choice and migration 308
8 Predators and prey 357
9 Social behaviour 406
10 Mating and parental care 470
11 Communication 533
12 Human behaviour 588

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