Behavioral Mechanisms in Evolutionary Ecologyby Leslie A. Real

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  • Behavioral Mechanisms in Evolutionary Ecology by Leslie A. RealReview by: Rachel NeemsJournal of Animal Ecology, Vol. 64, No. 6 (Nov., 1995), pp. 790-791Published by: British Ecological SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/5864 .Accessed: 07/05/2014 17:53

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  • such complex systems and with such different scales of time and space that different integrative levels are

    necessary according to the questions asked. This is not to deny that there are interfaces and overlap between the subdisciplines just as the ecosystem approach often requires understanding of physiology, geochemistry, hydrology, etc. Certainly, some ecol-

    ogists (and among them probably the most influential

    ones) have contributed to ecosystem studies as well as to population biology and evolutionary ecology, with the understanding that they were asking different

    questions at different times. I found that the most constructive suggestion in the book is that expressed in the chapter by L. B. Slobodkin. In his view the

    problem is not that ecology consists of different inte-

    grative levels (subdisciplines); rather it is a problem of a too narrow training of ecologists. Given a broad

    background in natural history, physiology, classi-

    fication, etc., and in different approaches to ecology, students will gain appreciation of different integrative levels and of ecological complexity and they will be able to approach and solve real problems.

    Altogether, the book includes several interesting chapters which are worthwhile reading. Strictly speak- ing, most fail to contribute to the stated purpose of the book: they exemplify the interface between population and ecosystem ecology rather than their integration. But they often present interesting approaches to par- ticular ecological problems. The majority of the authors write from an ecosystem perspective; the book

    would, perhaps, have become more interesting and balanced if a larger number of evolutionary or popu- lation ecologists had also been invited to contribute.

    TOM FENCHEL

    Leslie A. Real (Ed.) (1994) Behavioral Mechanisms in Evolutionary Ecology. Pp. 478. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ?63.95

    (cloth), ?23.95 (paperback). ISBN 0-226-70597-8.

    How often have we heard the plea that geneticists, for example, must talk to ecologists or ethologists converse with physiologists? This new volume of pap- ers edited by Leslie Real preaches the message that all functional biologists, whatever their discipline, should talk to evolutionary ecologists and vice versa. There is a lot of sense in what the authors say. Studying hormones and life histories in tandem, for example, can lead to a far greater understanding than when either is studied in isolation (chapter 14, Ketterson & Van Nolan).

    The common theme that runs through the book is that all ecological phenomena and patterns of com-

    such complex systems and with such different scales of time and space that different integrative levels are

    necessary according to the questions asked. This is not to deny that there are interfaces and overlap between the subdisciplines just as the ecosystem approach often requires understanding of physiology, geochemistry, hydrology, etc. Certainly, some ecol-

    ogists (and among them probably the most influential

    ones) have contributed to ecosystem studies as well as to population biology and evolutionary ecology, with the understanding that they were asking different

    questions at different times. I found that the most constructive suggestion in the book is that expressed in the chapter by L. B. Slobodkin. In his view the

    problem is not that ecology consists of different inte-

    grative levels (subdisciplines); rather it is a problem of a too narrow training of ecologists. Given a broad

    background in natural history, physiology, classi-

    fication, etc., and in different approaches to ecology, students will gain appreciation of different integrative levels and of ecological complexity and they will be able to approach and solve real problems.

    Altogether, the book includes several interesting chapters which are worthwhile reading. Strictly speak- ing, most fail to contribute to the stated purpose of the book: they exemplify the interface between population and ecosystem ecology rather than their integration. But they often present interesting approaches to par- ticular ecological problems. The majority of the authors write from an ecosystem perspective; the book

    would, perhaps, have become more interesting and balanced if a larger number of evolutionary or popu- lation ecologists had also been invited to contribute.

    TOM FENCHEL

    Leslie A. Real (Ed.) (1994) Behavioral Mechanisms in Evolutionary Ecology. Pp. 478. University of Chicago Press, Chicago. ?63.95

    (cloth), ?23.95 (paperback). ISBN 0-226-70597-8.

    How often have we heard the plea that geneticists, for example, must talk to ecologists or ethologists converse with physiologists? This new volume of pap- ers edited by Leslie Real preaches the message that all functional biologists, whatever their discipline, should talk to evolutionary ecologists and vice versa. There is a lot of sense in what the authors say. Studying hormones and life histories in tandem, for example, can lead to a far greater understanding than when either is studied in isolation (chapter 14, Ketterson & Van Nolan).

    The common theme that runs through the book is that all ecological phenomena and patterns of com-

    munity can be viewed as immediate consequences of an individual's behaviour. Furthermore, to fully understand the behaviour one must look at the

    munity can be viewed as immediate consequences of an individual's behaviour. Furthermore, to fully understand the behaviour one must look at the

    internal physiological and psychological processes in

    conjunction with the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the individual's actions.

    It is from this viewpoint that the book brings to-

    gether a diverse collection of cognitive scientists, behav- ioural ecologists, immunologists and developmental biologists. It is this very diversity that is one of the book's major assets. It is a great pleasure to open a book on evolutionary ecology and find a chapter on

    cognitive psychology that is both relevant and readable. The volume is divided into five sections: Psycho-

    logical and cognitive foundations; Communications; Neural, developmental and genetic processes; Hor- monal processes; and the Social context of behaviour. Most chapters are comprehensive reviews of specific behavioural systems such as navigation or song learn-

    ing, while others develop new models for studying problems in behavioural evolution. Many chapters present primary data and/or new ideas and methods, so at no time does the reader feel that the author is

    simply regurgitating past publications. The book gets off to a flying start with a radical

    chapter by Alan Kamil challenging our current

    approach to the study of animal intelligence. It is his contention that intelligence is adaptive and thus the

    evolutionary history of the animal is a crucial com-

    ponent to an animal's ability to learn. Because of this, animal intelligence must be studied in the field rather than in a box in the laboratory. A view echoed by West, King & Freeberg in their chapter on song evol- ution in the cowbird. Kamil sets out clearly his criti- cisms of the old approach, his proposals for a new

    'synthetic' approach to the problem and, thankfully, devotes his final section to research strategies that workers should begin to adopt. It would appear that the days of pigeons, rats and bar-pressing are numbered. Kamil's opinions are reinforced by Leslie Real in chapter 5, where the view is expressed that an animal's cognitive architecture is subject to the forces of natural selection just like any other character, a

    point rather neglected in the past. This opening section on cognition also includes chapters on optimal for-

    aging as viewed from a learning perspective (Krebs &

    Inman), navigation in the Hymenoptera (Dyer), and closes with a mathematical chapter illustrating how

    learning can influence evolutionary change in behav- iour (Papaj). Although this chapter is mathematically quite complex and not for the fainthearted, it is worth

    persevering because Papaj does eventually dem- onstrate the relevance of the models by application to a real-life bumblebee.

    With 16 different contributions there are too many to mention each individually in a short review such as this. Suffice to say that not one chapter fails to present high quality research that leaves the reader wit