Evolution, Function, Development and Causation

Tinbergen's Four Questions and Contemporary Behavioural Biology

Ethologist and Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen laid the foundations for the scientific study of animal behaviour when he formulated its four main problems: evolution, function, development and causation. Celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Tinbergen’s classic article ‘On aims and methods of ethology’, in this book an international cast of leading behavioural biologists reflect on the enduring significance of his groundbreaking proposals. Following a reprint of Tinbergen’s seminal paper on the famous ‘four why’s’, a contemporary perspective is presented on each of the four problems. In addition, two essays discuss the wider significance of recent trends in evolutionary psychology and neuroecology to integrate the four why’s. This wide ranging book, with a foreword by Aubrey Manning, will appeal to students and researchers in behavioural biology, experimental psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

Biographical Note

Johan J. Bolhuis is Professor of Behavioural Biology at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Simon Verhulst is Assistant Professor of Behavioural Biology at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

Table of contents

Contributors Foreword by Aubrey Manning Preface 1. On aims and methods of ethology, N. Tinbergen 2. Causation: the study of behavioral mechanisms, Jerry A. Hogan 3. Tinbergen’s fourth question, ontogeny: sexual and individual differentiation, David Crews and Ton Groothuis 4. The development of behavior: trends since Tinbergen (1963), Jerry A. Hogan and Johan J. Bolhuis 5. The study of function in behavioural ecology, Innes Cuthill 6. The evolution of behavior, and integrating it towards a complete and correct understanding of behavioral biology, Michael J. Ryan 7. Do ideas about function help in the study of causation?, David F. Sherry 8. Function and mechanism in neuroecology: looking for clues, Johan J. Bolhuis Index