This book introduces the reader to the power of observation before, and sometimes instead of, experimental manipulation in the study of animal behaviour. It starts with simple and easily accessible methods suitable for student projects, before going on to demonstrate the possibilities that now exist for far more sophisticated analyses of observational data.
At a time when animal welfare considerations are attracting political as well as scientific debate, the potential for non-intrusive studies on animals is being increasingly recognized. Observation emerges as a valuable alternative approach, often yielding highly informative results in situations (such as on zoos, farms or for wild animals) where more invasive experimental techniques would be undesirable, unethical or just plain impossible. However, to justify its place alongside experimentation as a rigorous scientific method, observation needs to be just as disciplined and systematic and have just as much attention paid to project design in the way that observations are made and recorded.
Observing Animal Behaviour takes the reader through all these stages: from the initial observations, to the formulation of hypotheses, and their subsequent testing with further systematic observations. Although designed principally as a companion text for advanced undergraduate and students taking courses in animal behaviour, this accessible text will be essential reading for anyone wanting to study animal behaviour using observational methods rather than experimentation, and assumes no previous knowledge of animals, statistics or scientific method. It will be of particular relevance and use to those professional researchers and consultants in the behavioural sciences who seek a compact but comprehensive introduction to the quantitative observation of animal behaviour.
1. The power of observation; 2. Asking the right question; 3. When all you need is one; 4. Three principles of observational design; 5. The selective observer; 6. Down to detail; 7. Observing in zoos, on farms, and in the wild; 8. Analysing observations; 9. Further observations; 10. Observing the Future; Appendix 1: Some random numbers; Appendix 2: Power and sample size; Appendix 3: Beaufort wind scale
This slim volume is a gem; a personal, perceptive, accessible, and yet keenly scientific guide to how to do observational research on animals. The only thing better than reading this book and keeping it close at hand for rereading would be to have a mentor such as Dawkins herself nearby for the sharing, whether the "student" is a precocious 10 year old or an observer several times that age, whether new to animal behavior or an "old hand," or whether focused on experimental or observational methodologies. The Quarterly Review of Biology This is a well-written, clear, practical and timely book addressing the utility and methodology of observational studies of animal behaviour. [The book] persuasively argues the merits of observational work, and then issues lucid, pragmatic asvice regarding its pursuit...I would very much recommend it as both an inspiring 'manifesto', and a demystifying guide, to the conduct of observational research. Applied Animal Behaviour Science This is a very good book that truly has something to offer anyone interested in the study of animal behaviour...I found Stamp Dawkins [book] unique in its coverage of practical issues and advice on how to be an effective scientist. Her advice on how to ask the right question is worth the cover price on its own. Animal Behaviour 2007.