Covering diverse species from garter snakes to Komodo dragons, this book delves into the evolutionary origins and fascinating details of the mysterious social lives of reptiles.
Reptiles have been too often dismissed as dull animals with tiny brains and simple, "asocial" lives. In reality, reptiles engage in a remarkable diversity of complex social behaviour. They can live in families; communicate with one another while still in the egg; and hunt, feed, migrate, court, mate, nest, and hatch in groups. In The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles, J. Sean Doody, Vladimir Dinets, and Gordon M. Burghardt – three of the world's leading experts on reptiles – bring together a wave of new research with a synthesis of classic studies to produce the only authoritative look at the social behaviours of the most provocative animals on the planet.
The book covers turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodilians, and the enigmatic tuatara. Enhanced with dozens of images, it takes readers through a myriad of social interactions, tendencies, and intimacies ranging from fierce territorial battles to delicate paternal care and from promiscuous pairings to monogamous partnerships. This unique text
- explains why reptiles have been neglected as subjects of social behaviour studies;
- provides numerous examples across all major reptilian groups that overturn the false paradigm of "solitary" reptiles;
- explores the sensory, genetic, physiological, life history, and other factors underlying social behaviour in reptiles;
- presents the case that evolutionary "experiments" found among reptiles offer unparalleled opportunities for understanding how and why social behaviour evolves in animals; and
- identifies new and developing areas of research helping to reshape our view of reptiles.
Revealing the secrets of reptilian social relationships through original quantitative research, field studies, laboratory experiments, and careful analysis of the literature, The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles elevates these fascinating animals to key players in the science of behavioural ecology.
1. Social Behavior Research: A History and a Role for Reptiles
2. The Biology and Phylogenetic Position of Reptiles
3. Social Organization and Mating Systems
5. Courtship and Mating
6. Communal Egg-laying: Habitat Saturation or Conspecific Attraction?
7. Parental Care
8. Synchrony of Hatching & Emergence: A Perspective from the Underworld
9. Behavioral Development in Reptiles: Too Little Known, but Growing
10. The Reach of Sociality: Feeding, Thermoregulation, Predator Avoidance, and Habitat Choice
11. Looking Towards the Future in Studying the Social Lives of Reptiles
J. Sean Doody (St. Petersburg, Florida) is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. He is the co-author of The Australian Pig-Nose Turtle.
Vladimir Dinets (West Orange, New Jersey) is a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a visiting researcher at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology. He is the author of Dragon Songs: Love and Adventure among Crocodiles, Alligators, and Other Dinosaur Relations.
Gordon M. Burghardt (Knoxville, Tennessee) is an Alumni Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Tennessee. He is the author of The Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits.
"This landmark book is the first to review in detail the comparative social behavior of reptiles. Many readers will be surprised to learn about how complex and variable reptilian behavior can be, and that outdated myths about how greatly they are pre-programmed are just that – myths."
– Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado at Boulder, author of The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy – and Why They Matter
"Watch out, mammologists and ornithologists, here come the behavioral herpetologists, and there are a lot of us! This wonderful, up-to-date review of modern studies of reptile sociality and related behavioral themes will be much read and much used, and I hope it will serve to stimulate new, fresh studies."
– Stanley F. Fox, Oklahoma State University, coeditor of Lizard Social Behavior
"An enjoyable and stimulating read, The Secret Social Lives of Reptiles is destined to be a classic work in biology for biologists and non-biologists alike. The book's scholarship sets the standard and should be used as a template for future researchers and authors."
– James B. Murphy, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, coeditor of Komodo Dragons: Biology and Conservation