Books  Animal & General Biology  Animals: Behaviour 

Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach


By: John Alcock(Author)

522 pages, colour photos, colour & b/w illustrations

Sinauer Associates

Paperback | Jul 2013 | Edition: 10 | #203147 | ISBN-13: 9780878939664
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £79.99 $104/€89 approx

About this book

This new edition of Animal Behaviour: An Evolutionary Approach has been thoroughly rewritten with coverage of much recent work in animal behaviour. The scope of the changes for the Tenth Edition, however, is much more all-encompassing than that of past revisions. Thoughtful suggestions from many readers inspired a major reorganization of the material, such that the new book presents the central concepts of animal behaviour in a different sequence from prior editions:

The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Instead of introducing the concept of proximate and ultimate causation and then focusing heavily on the proximate mechanisms of behaviour in the early chapters, this edition focuses first on the evolutionary basis of behaviour. Chapter 1 presents the concept of a Darwinian puzzle, a trait that exists even though it seems to reduce the reproductive success of individuals, in which case it should have been eliminated by natural selection. The emphasis on Darwinian puzzles continues, with an in-depth discussion of the evolution of altruism in Chapter 2 (versus Chapter 14) and subsequent exploration of the adaptive value of a broad range of traits from anti-predator activities to reproductive and parental behaviours.

The Distinction between Proximate and Ultimate Causation in Biology. Once the major findings of behavioural ecology have been examined, Animal Behaviour: An Evolutionary Approach turns its attention to the proximate mechanisms underlying animal behaviour. Here, too, the emphasis remains on the evolutionary puzzles provided by particular developmental and neurophysiological mechanisms. This approach provides continuity with earlier chapters while helping readers see the connections between adaptive behaviours and the adaptive internal systems that make those behaviours possible.

The Procedures That Scientists Use to Test Their Tentative Explanations for Such Things as Darwinian Puzzles. Throughout, the text shows how researchers use scientific logic to study the underlying mechanisms and the evolutionary bases of behaviour. The emphasis is on how evolutionary theory unifies the various subdisciplines within animal behaviour. These points are highlighted again in the final chapter on human behaviour, with its treatment of the proximate and ultimate causes of language and the evolution of mate choice in our species.

Enduring features of prior editions remain evident in this new book: the clear, engaging writing style; text beautifully illustrated with many new photographs; references to a large number of new scientific articles; and a substantial number of new and old discussion questions embedded in the text.

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See the previous edition

Animal Behaviour

This new edition of Animal Behavior has once again been thoroughly...

NHBS Price: £48.99 $64/€55 approx


1. An Introduction to Animal Behavior
The Behavioral Ecology of a Digger Bee
The Science of Behavioral Biology

2. Behavioral Ecology and the Evolution of Altruism
Explaining Altruism: Intelligent Design?
Kin Selection and Inclusive Fitness Theory
The History of Behavioral Traits
Kin Selection and Social Conflict

3. The Evolution of Social Behavior
The Evolution of Helpful Behavior
Kin Selection and Helpful Behavior
Helpers at the Nest: A Darwinian Puzzle
Altruism in Vertebrates and Insects: A Comparison

4. The Evolution of Communication
The History of a Strange Display
Sensory Exploitation and the Origin of Communication Signals
The Behavioral Ecology of Communication

5. Avoiding Predators and Finding Food
The Definition of Adaptation
Testing Adaptationist Hypotheses
A Cost–Benefit Approach to Social Defenses
A Cost–Benefit Approach to Cryptic Behavior
Optimality Theory and Antipredator Behavior
Optimality Theory and Foraging Decisions
Game Theory, Feeding Behavior, and Another Darwinian Puzzle

6. The Evolution of Habitat Selection, Territoriality, and Migration
Habitat Selection and Ideal Free Distribution Theory
When to Invest in Territorial Defense
Dispersal and Migration

7. The Evolution of Reproductive Behavior
Sexual Selection and Bowerbird Behavior
Sexual Selection and Parental Investment
Sexual Selection and the Competition for Mates
Sexual Selection and Sperm Competition
Sexual Selection and Mate Choice

8. The Evolution of Mating Systems
Is Male Monogamy Adaptive?
Monogamous Males, Polyandrous Females
What Do Females Gain from Polyandry?
Why Are There So Many Kinds of Polygynous Mating Systems?

9. The Evolution of Parental Care
The Cost–Benefit Analysis of Parental Care
Discriminating Parental Care
The Puzzle of Parental Favoritism

10. Proximate and Ultimate Causes of Behavior
Connecting the Four Levels of Analysis
The Proximate and Ultimate Causes of Monogamy in Prairie Voles
The Proximate Causes of Bird Song
The Ultimate Causes of Bird Songs
Proximate and Ultimate Causes Are Complementary

11. The Development of Behavior
The Nature or Nurture Misconception
Environmental Differences Can Cause Behavioral Differences
Genetic Differences Can Also Cause Behavioral Differences
Evolution and Behavioral Development

12. Evolution, Nervous Systems, and Behavior
Complex Responses to Simple Stimuli
Detecting, Processing, and Responding to Ecologically Significant Stimuli
The Proximate Basis of Stimulus Filtering
The Evolution of Cognitive Skills

13. How Neurons and Hormones Organize Behavior
Neural Command and Control
Hormonal Modulation of Behavior
The Costs of Hormonal Regulation

14. The Evolution of Human Behavior
Language and the Four Levels of Analysis
The Evolutionary Analysis of Mate Choice
The Evolutionary Analysis of Sexual Conflict
Practical Applications of Evolutionary Theory
The Triumph of an Evolutionary Analysis of Human Behavior

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John Alcock is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Biology at Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University under the direction of Ernst Mayr. His research deals with the behavioural ecology of insect mating systems, with projects that have taken him from Arizona to Costa Rica and Australia. He wrote The Triumph of Sociobiology (2001) and co-authored The Evolution of Insect Mating Systems (1983) with Randy Thornhill. Alcock has also written seven other books on animal behaviour and natural history for general audiences. One of these, In a Desert Garden, received the Burroughs’ Award for natural history writing in 1998. Dr. Alcock also received the Dean’s Quality Teaching Award the first year it was given at Arizona State University.

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