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Journal Article

The past and the future of Behavioral Ecology


Milinski,  Manfred
Department Evolutionary Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Milinski, M. (2014). The past and the future of Behavioral Ecology. Behavioral Ecology, 25(4), 680-684. doi:10.1093/beheco/aru079.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0023-C2AD-A
The design of brains, sense organs, or immune systems is an impressive product of natural selection, far ahead of human engineering capability. But what if behavior is less well adapted? A bird’s perfect eye is useless if it fails to avoid a stalking cat. If we fail in choosing a partner with complementary immunogenes, our ability to detect major histocompatibility complex–dependent body odors is worthless. Besides being able to detect all available prey items, the diet that maximizes net energy gain must be chosen. Individuals that are selected naturally will be those best able to avoid predators, choose mates, select food, and so on. Those with less perfect behavior produce fewer offspring, and their genotypes will disappear. Ecology is the stage on which the fittest have behaved most successfully. Thus, their strategies prevail today. Behavioral ecology is about the optimal design of behavior.