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How animals behave is crucial to their survival and reproduction. The application of new molecular tools such as DNA fingerprinting and genomics is causing a revolution in the study of animal behaviour, while developments in computing and image analysis allow us to investigate behaviour in ways never previously possible. By combining these with the traditional methods of observation and experiments, we are now learning more about animal behaviour than ever before.
In this Very Short Introduction Tristram D. Wyatt discusses how animal behaviour has evolved, how behaviours develop in each individual (considering the interplay of genes, epigenetics, and experience), how we can understand animal societies, and how we can explain collective behaviour such as swirling flocks of starlings. Using lab and field studies from across the whole animal kingdom, he looks at mammals, butterflies, honeybees, fish, and birds, analysing what drives behaviour, and exploring instinct, learning, and culture. Looking more widely at behavioural ecology, he also considers some aspects of human behaviour.
1: How animals behave (and why)
2: Sensing and responding
3: How behaviour develops
4: Learning and animal culture
5: Signals for survival
6: Winning strategies
7: The wisdom of crowds
8: Applying behaviour
Tristram D. Wyatt is a member of the Animal Behaviour Research Group of the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford and an emeritus fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. He did his PhD in animal behaviour at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Oxford's Department for Continuing Education as a lecturer (Associate Professor) in 1989, he was a lecturer at the University of Leeds and held research fellowships at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Wales, Cardiff. He is interested in how animals of all kinds use pheromones to communicate by smell. The second edition of his book Pheromones and Animal Behavior (2014) won the Royal Society of Biology's prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014. His TED talk on human pheromones has been viewed over a million times.
"This slim volume [...] is packed full of facts, photographs, diagrams, and helpful graphs. Wyatt's writing is clear and concise, and the content is comprehensively referenced [...] This is a fine book that will undoubtedly entertain and educate a broad readership. I highly recommend this book to anyone with even a marginal interest in animal behaviour. This work will be of interest to students of biology, researchers and non-specialists alike."
– Billy Mills, New Nature
"concise, informative and insightful introduction to the fascinating world of animal behaviour [...] read Wyatt's compelling introduction before you watch the next nature documentary. Itll deepen and widen your understanding and appreciation of these beautiful stories. If you're sitting comfortably, Wyatt's book is a great place to begin."
– Mark Greener, Fortean Times
"written in a very clear and engaging way, which should certainly stimulate general readers to explore animal behaviour in some depth."
– Mark Briffa, Animal Behaviour
"Bird watchers should take note of this book. Amateur entomologists should take note of it as well. Quite simply, if you spend any time at all observing, contemplating, or taking any notice whatsoever of the activities of animals, animal behavior is a subject about which you should have at least basic understanding [...] And as with so any subjects, a Very Short Introduction is a uperb place to begin."
– The Well-read Naturalist