Behaviour and Evolution.
The book is comprised of nine chapters. The first four chapters serve as an excellent primer on the various topics that anyone needs to grasp before proceeding to examine behavior and evolution. Four of the remaining five chapters deal with social systems, sexual behavior, and kinship. It is less clear why the editors chose to insert a chapter on the evolution of intelligence. The set of papers leaves out large areas that could readily be addressed with regard to behavior and evolution. Such topics include, for example, foraging behavior and predator prey relations, and habitat and nest site selection. If I were teaching a seminar based on this book, I would therefore supplement with additional review and research articles to cover the missing topics.
All that said, I believe that much of the material is well done and worth reading. Chapter 2 by Hoffmann on behavior genetics as it relates to the evolution of behavior and Chapter 3 by Butlin and Ritchie on speciation contain excellent research examples that succeed admirably in making an understanding of these topics much easier. Both chapters are written at an appropriate level for the target audience and both flow nicely due to a well-structured organization. Chapter 4, on the phylogeny of behavior, by Gittleman and Decker is terribly important. Much of the work on behavior and evolution in the coming decade will depend on a solid understanding of the methods to be used, assumptions associated with those methods, and pitfalls inherent in making comparisons across taxonomic boundaries. Gittleman and Decker should have simplified their presentation more to succeed in explaining the intricacies of this approach. Chapter 4 seemed to me to be written for a different, higher level, audience than the others in the book.
Chapters 5-7 cover a broad range of issues pertaining to mating, evolution of sexual behavior, and kin recognition and its consequences for the evolution of behavior. As a group, these were well done. The examples, writing style, and particularly the frequent references to work that needs to be carried out in the future were done best in Slater's chapter on kinship and altruism. Harvey, in Chapter 5 on strategies of behavior, does a good job of explaining what are sometimes difficult formulae for the students, but then seems to make assignments of values for some variables that are arbitrary and unexplained. Students may wonder about such processes, and a brief digression to explain such techniques used to test models, would have been in order.
Byrne's chapter on the evolution of intelligence seems out of place. The author rambles a bit too much away from the topic, forgetting the main theme of behavior and evolution. I also felt that there was too much emphasis on tearing down ideas and constructs, e.g., concerning imitation and concerning brain size and intelligence, without providing alternatives or suggestions concerning where we go now to build new theories. The final chapter, by Lee, on social structure and evolution, deals almost exclusively with mammals, and generally with only three groups, primates, African ungulates, and carnivores. No attempt is made to synthesize the ideas presented across a broad range of animal species.
I was especially disappointed that the book contained very little on invertebrates, insects in particular. There is a wealth of information on insect systems with respect to many of the topics covered in the book. Further, it appears that the future will bring even more work on a variety of invertebrates. I think the editors needed to make more definitive statements at the outset concerning the scope of coverage. They also needed to provide a rationale for the limited topics and sets of animals that are covered.
The book has one or two typographical errors per chapter, probably about average. I found the misuse of "which" when "that" is the correct word to be a persistent problem throughout most chapters, though there does not seem to be any consistency with regard to this misuse. There was also some confusion about the use of British versus American English; co-operate and cooperate are both used, behavior is occasionally used in the American rather than British spelling, and stabilizing is spelled two different ways several lines apart on a single page. A more thorough editing job would have corrected most of these errors. I did appreciate the collection of all of the references at the end of the volume; this arrangement is much easier to use than having to find the end of every chapter to attempt to locate a particular citation. My check of the index indicated that it is both accurate and quite thorough.
The volume serves a useful purpose in making students and professionals who are interested in this topic think about the methods that they use. There are sufficient novel ideas packed into the various chapters to stimulate one's thinking regarding a variety of "hot" topics in animal behavior. Should the book prove successful enough for a revision, I hope that the authors will consider expanding their coverage to include some of the topics I mentioned earlier and that they will encourage the use of a broader range of examples from across the animal kingdom. I hope those who begin to explore this relatively new subfield within animal behavior will not forget that evolution takes place at the level of the mechanisms underlying behavior. In that regard it would be good to have had a chapter, or portions of several chapters, that dealt with possible ways that evolution by natural selection acts on mechanisms (nervous system, hormonal system, ontogeny). In that way we may eventually be able to truly integrate the proximate and ultimate causes of behavior from an evolutionary perspective.
LEE C. DRICKAMER SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY AT CARBONDALE Department of Zoology Life Science II Carbondale, Illinois 62901
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|Author:||Drickamer, Lee C.|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1995|
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