|Publisher: Blackwell||Date of Publication: 2005|
|Price: £ 24.99||ISBN: 0 631 23125 0|
|Pages: xvi + 515||Format: Paperback|
1 - The study of animal behaviour; 2 - Stimulus perception; 3 - Motivation; 4 - Biological rhythms and behavior; 5 - Brain and behavior; 6 - Development of behavior; 7 - Learning and memory; 8 - Animal cognition; 9 - The function of behavior; 10 - Communication; 11 - Mate choice, mating systems and sexual selection; 12 - Polyandry, sperm competition and sexual conflict; 13 - Evolution of behavior; 14 - Social systems; 15 - Applied animal behavior and animal welfare; 16 - Animal behavior and conservation biology; 17 - Human behavior as animal behavior.
One of the more recent changes pervading even basic ecological education is the need to consider more than just the physical setting of the organism. There's a need to look far more at the social and behavioural aspects as well. This has the advantage of enriching our study but, at the same time, making it more complex. There is a need, therefore, for a text which can introduce the main areas of the subject, provide some context for the work but which, at the same time, makes the ideas accessible. The aim of this collection is to achieve this. The text is divided into three parts: mechanisms of behavior, function and evolution of behavior and animal behavior and human society.
The first chapter acts as an overview - a brief review of the development of the topic and a note of the key concepts behind it (including the work of Lorenz and Tinbergen). From there, we move into the first part of the text - a study of mechanisms. It become clear very early on that the notion of mechanisms is taken broadly. Chapter two starts with a look at stimulus perception from a neurological perspective. In addition to the key concepts there's a wide range of experiments and examples used to illustrate these points. Chapter three looks at motivation and the very wide range of initiators and mechanisms involved. Not all behavior is conscious. Much research has gone into other aspects such as the behavior brought about by circadian rhythms , the subject of chapter four. In another change of direction, chapter five looks at the way in which the brain can control behavior through neurological means. Behavior is not constant - it changes through an organism's life. How does it do this and why? In chapter six we see some of the models that have been used to explain this (with obvious links to human populations although this is not introduced at this stage). Although we may not agree with its sophistication, animals do learn and remember their lessons which suggests that memory is important. This work is followed by the subject of chapter 8 - the notion of animal learning, memory and thought i.e. cognition. There are numerous cases here - honeybees, rats etc. which give us some insight into the development of this work and how we can interpret these actions. This leads us on to part two. Behaviour is not just a random event: it serves a purpose even if we are unsure of the precise meaning. Chapter 9 highlights the basic ideas surrounding function and some of the models put forward to test it. From this point, a number of chapters are devoted to describe the 'job' that each behavior might do. The first is communication (chapter 10). One of the most critical elements in social species is the need to tell others about the environment.This obviously has utility from sex selection to warning. The element of sex selection is explored further in chapter 11. Here it's clear that behavior is far more than just vocal signals. There are courtship dances and a range of other aspects with which to attract a mate (or repel a rival). This is carried over to chapter 12 which looks at sexual conflict and the way it can be demonstrated and resolved. Chapter 13 discusses the notion of evolution of behavior. Although initially an unusual idea, a moment's thought can see where this had developed from - as species evolve so must their behavior with the notion that diversity must be a behavioural matter as well as a biological one. Finally in this part there's a look at the development of social systems. Part three links animal with human behavior. Here, behavior is not just part of the ecosystem but something that can be applied - another link between humans and other animals. Thus chapter 15 looks at the links between behavior and animal welfare with the motive that better understanding leads to better animal handling and rearing. This is given a conservation perspective with chapter 16 which investigates how a knowledge of behavior will help conservation practice. A final chapter looks at the ways in which our own behavioral patterns can be understood through looking at animals. A large bibliography, glossary and index complete the work.
It's very clear that this is no beginner's text even though it is aimed at the introductory level. This being said there is a great deal to recommend this text. It is very clearly written with a wealth of examples and cases that would stimulate the beginner into wanting to find out more. The focus on the development of the subject as well as its explanation gives it a historical perspective which puts even the most recent work into a firm context. The enthusiasm of many of the contributors shows in their work and this allows the text to stand out from the usual introduction. Although from the educators viewpoint this text would best suit their needs rather than the students this book should be seen as a major text in university courses.
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