Behavioural Ecology

11 Dec, 2014 570 Biology

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Behavioural Ecology, the scientific study of animal behaviour. What factors influence where and what an animal chooses to eat? Why do some animals mate for life whilst others are promiscuous? Behavioural ecologists approach questions like these using Darwin’s theory of natural selection, along with ideas drawn from game theory and the economics of consumer choice. Scientists had always been interested in why animals behave as they do, but before behavioural ecology this area of zoology never got much beyond a collection of interesting anecdotes. Behavioural ecology gave researchers techniques for constructing rigorous mathematical models of how animals act under different circumstances, and for predicting how they will react if circumstances change. Behavioural ecology emerged as a branch of zoology in the second half of the 20th century and proponents say it revolutionized our understanding of animals in their environments.

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  • Steve Jones 22 episodes
    Emeritus Professor of Genetics at University College London
  • Rebecca Kilner No other episodes
    Professor of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Cambridge
  • John Krebs No other episodes
    Principal of Jesus College at the University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Bird Sense: What It's Like to Be a Bird
    Tim Birkhead (Bloomsbury, 2013) Google Books →
  • An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology
    Nicholas Davies, John Krebs, Stuart West (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) Google Books →
  • The Selfish Gene
    Richard Dawkins (Oxford Paperbacks, 1989) Google Books →
  • The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee: How Our Animal Heritage Affects the Way We Live
    Jared Diamond (Vintage, 1992) Google Books →
  • Dr Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex
    Olivia Judson (Vintage, 2003) Google Books →
  • A Reason for Everything: Natural Selection and the English Imagination
    Marek Kohn (Faber & Faber, 2005) Google Books →
  • An Introduction to Animal Behaviour
    Aubrey Manning and Marian Stamp Dawkins (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Curious Naturalists
    Niko Tinbergen (University of Massachusetts Press, 1984) Google Books →
  • Relentless Evolution
    John Thompson (University of Chicago Press, 2013) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. What factors influence where and what an animal chooses to eat?