Summary: In the past the fear of anthropomorphizing and the separation of disciplines in animal behavior seem to have prevented research workers from recognising clear signs of highly developed cognitive abilities in animals, abilities that may be easily understood as an evolutionary response to selection pressures.
The idea that animals behave in ways that are simply a robotic response to environmental stimuli or just the result of learning under a particular set of cond ...show moreitioning programs, cannot now be sustained in an age of optimality theories in behavioral ecology. Field studies regularly record complex behaviors where animals integrate the results of past experience with current situations and the survival and reproductive challenges of the moment. For example, food storage behavior requires the integration of remembered maps of the environment, the whereabouts of new and stored food sources and the current needs of nutrition and survival.
In this book, the editors bring together results from studies on all kinds of animals to show how thinking on many behaviors as truly cognitive processes can help us to understand the biology involved. Taking ideas and observations from the whole range of research into animal behavior leads to unexpected and stimulating ideas. A space is created where the work of field ecologists, evolutionary ecologists and experimental psychologists can interact and contribute to a greater understanding of complex animal behaviour, and to the development of a new and coherent field of study.
The editors share many years of experience in laboratory and field. Balda has spent over 20 years looking at the social ecology of the Pinyon Jay, with particularemphasis on food caching behavior, and has collaborated with Kamil in laboratory experiments to test hypotheses generated in the wild. Kamil's laboratory techniques have been instrumental in leading the effort to tie cognition into behavioral ecology through his laboratory experiments on search image and spatial memory in the Blue Jay. Pepperberg's work on cognition and vocal learning in parrots further demonstrates the previously underestimated cognitive power of birds and provides insights into social learning and vocal behavior. ...show less