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New book on animal behavior provides integrated view

03/22/2011

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (March 22, 2011) - An animal’s behavior is probably its most attention-attracting aspect, both to scientists and nonscientists alike. Its behavior involves processes internal to the animal—genetics, neurobiology, and physiology—as well as those external to it—environment and social surroundings. According to the book’s authors, “Animal behavior weaves itself throughout the tapestry of biology: It is sparked when neurons fire in response to stimuli in the external world, it forms interactions that lead to reproduction and genetic propagation, and it enhances complex group function, even when it emerges from seemingly simple self-organizing principles.” It is this premise on which Michael J. Ryan of The University of Texas at Austin and Walter Wilczynski of the Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta have based their new book An Introduction to Animal Behavior: An Integrative Approach, just published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

In this book, the authors use the interrelationship of the aspects of animal behavior, as codified in Nikolaas Tinbergen’s “four questions” of causation, ontogeny, survival value, and evolution, to derive what they believe is a correct interpretation of behavior. To illustrate their view, Drs. Ryan and Wilczynski explore classic behavioral studies as well as up-to-the-minute research in areas as diverse as molecular genomics, patterns, anatomy and physiology, neurobiology, endocrinology, development, learning, evolutionary genomics, and phylogenetics. As the authors point out, “This book is unique in providing a balanced, integrated look at animal behavior that connects the behavior itself to evolutionary considerations on the one hand and to mechanistic processes on the other.”

Drs. Ryan and Wilczynski have worked together since the early 1980s on research exploring amphibian acoustic communication that integrates evolutionary and mechanistic studies of behavior. “It was through these interactions that we both became convinced that integrative animal behavior consists of more than just cataloging data at different levels of analysis but is most potent when it uses information at each level of analysis to inform research and interpretations at other levels.”

Their book is divided into three main sections: Basic Concepts, covering the function and evolution of behavior as well as the mechanism and acquisition of behavior; The Search for Resources, which discusses foraging, migration, and orientation; and Social Behavior, which includes species recognition and sexual selection, social bonding and cooperation, and conflict and aggression. The book is copiously illustrated with examples critical to understanding the concepts discussed. This book will appeal to upper-level undergraduates, graduate students, and others wanting a succinct introduction to this integrative approach to animal behavior studies.


About the book:
An Introduction to Animal Behavior: An Integrative Approach was written by Michael J. Ryan (The University of Texas at Austin) and Walter Wilczynski ( Neuroscience Institute, Georgia State University, Atlanta) and published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press (©2011). It is available in hardcover (978-1-936113-18-7) and in paperback (978-0-879698-58-4). It is 258 pages in length and has a trim size of 6.5 x 9 inches. For more information, see http://www.cshlpress.com/link/introanibehp.htm

About the authors:
Dr. Walter Wilczynski received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Michigan before working as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University in the Section of Neurobiology and Behavior. He was a faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin from 1983 until 2005, when he left to join the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Georgia State University. He is currently a professor of Neuroscience and the first Director of Georgia State University’s new interdisciplinary Neuroscience Institute. Dr. Wilczynski’s research focuses on the neural and hormonal mechanism of animal communication and social behavior and on the evolution of neural systems in amphibians and reptiles.

Dr. Michael J. Ryan received his Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. He was a Miller Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley from 1982 to 1984, and then joined the faculty in the Department of Zoology (now Section of Integrative Biology) at the University of Texas at Austin where he is currently the Clark Hubbs Regents Professor in Zoology. Dr. Ryan has been a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama since 1982, is a past president of the Animal Behavior Society, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His research emphasizes the evolution and mechanisms of animal communication.

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media, located on Long Island, New York. Since 1933, it has furthered the advance and spread of scientific knowledge in all areas of genetics and molecular biology, including cancer biology, plant science, bioinformatics, and neurobiology. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit www.cshlpress.com.

Contact:
Elizabeth Powers, Book Marketing and Sales Account Manager
powerse@cshl.edu ; 516-422-4101



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