Week 14. - Dec. 2nd
Finish up Game Theory, Cooperation and Green Beards. We likely won't have much time to get to parasites

(we will need to decide whether we will do parasites or personality on the final day)

MOODLE: Post and comment on papers regarding parasitic manipulation of host behavior. Choose both mechanistic and ecological papers. I know that there are even a few reports that have used genomic approaches to understand gene regulation, after all, how can the parasite change the function of the host's nervous system.

Probably we should have done this one around Holloween!!
We all know about parasites. According to Webster's Dictionary it is

"an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and
benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense."
parasite rex

But today we will focus on parasites that manipulate the behavior of their host. We will talk about both why and how they accomplish this. How does the altered behavior benefit the parasite? For further reading (not focused on behavior, check out the book Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer)

Sapolsky, R. (2004) Bugs in the Brain. Scientific American, 2003 v?:94-97.

I choose this to demonstrate that it isn't just parasite/host relationships in which one individual manipulates the behavior of another in order to increase its own reproductive fitness. This examples describes the direct manipulation of female behavior by its male. Stop and think about all social interactions, and think in terms of competition and cooperation.
Carvalho, G.B., Kapahi, P., Anderson, D.J. and Benzer, S. (2006) Allocrine Modulation of Feeding Behavior by the Sex Peptide of Drosophila. Current Biology 16:692-696.

Week 14. - Dec. 4th
Adaptive Value (Discussion Question Day--This will happen today, even if we are a bit behind the syllabus)

Answer 2 of the following 4 questions. (download handout)
Type the answers. Bring them to class. Be prepared to discuss and amend your answers.

spandrel of St. Marco1) Gould and Lewontin use metaphors (the basilica of St. Marks, and Voltaire's Candide) in order to ridicule a scientific research approach that they deem inappropriate.  Mayr contradicts these authors in a more straightforward manner and ultimately supports the use of adaptationist thinking. Compare and contrast the writing style in these two papers. (There is a book, Understanding Scientific Prose, that is dedicated to the discussion of Gould and Lewontin's writing technique)

2) Who are (were) Stephen J. Gould, Richard Lewontin, and Earnst Mayr? Why are these men qualified to debate the topic of Adaptationist program? (you'll have to look outside these papers to answer this one.

3) Mayr makes recommendations about how an adaptationist program should be executed.  Discuss those recommendations in your own words while comparing and contrasting them to the "Alternative Strategies" as outlined by Gould and Lewontin.

4) Define atomization and Bauplan and discuss their relative role in an adaptationist program.


Gould & Lewontin (1979) Spandrels of St. Marco and the Panglossian Paradigm: a critique of the adaptionist program PRS 205:581-598.

Mayr (1983) How to Carry out the Adaptionist Program? Amer Nat 121:324-334.

The Gould and Lewontin paper created a great stir, and has been read by all evolutionary biologists, most behavioral biologist, all ecologists, and many other scientists. Their writig style if far from scientific. This single paper is the focus of an entire book that examines the style more than the content. I wouldn't expect you to read that book but the following paper presents and interesting and very entertaining stylistic critique.

Queller (1995) The Spaniels of St. Marx and the Panglossian Paradox: A critque of a rhetorical programme. Quart. Rev. Biol 70:485-489.

Don't be fooled, this debate has not been layed to rest. For a modern discussion see.
Lynch, M. (2007) The Frailty of Adaptionist Hypotheses for the Origins of Organismal Complexity. PNAS 104:8597-8604.

On your own:

Scientific Process:
Because the semester is almost over, its time to reconsider the questions "what is animal behavior" and where is this field going in the future. A review was recently written to answer these questions for Behavioral Ecology. Our course has covered many topics outside of Behavioral Ecology, so we will use this review as a starting point and discuss our ideas on the most important, most interesting, and still unanswered questions in animal behavior.

Owens, I.P.F. (2006) Where is behavioural ecology going? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21:356-361.