Dingle, Hugh Department of Entomology, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of California, Davis, California.
Frumhoff, Peter Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, California.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Behavioral homeostasis
- Habitat selection
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The branch of ecology that focuses on the evolutionary causes of variation in behavior among populations and species. The scientific study of behavioral ecology investigates how changes of behavior are influenced by ecological factors (Fig. 1). Thus, behavioral ecology is concerned with the adaptiveness of behavior, as well as the ultimate questions of why animals behave as they do, rather than the proximate questions of how they behave. The principles of natural selection are applied to behavior with the underlying assumption that, within the constraints of their evolutionary histories, animals behave optimally by maximizing their genetic contribution to future generations. Several aspects of both individual and social behavior have been analyzed from this perspective. See also: Animal evolution; Behavior genetics; Ecology; Ethology; Instinctive behavior; Social mammals; Sociobiology
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