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Book review: Behavioral ecology of the eastern red-backed salamander: 50 years of research

January 1, 2017

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the British Ecological Society, Sutherland et al. (2013) identified 100 questions of fundamental significance in “pure” (i.e., not applied) ecology. A somewhat unexpected outcome of these authors’ exercise was the realization that, after 100 years of comprehensive, intensive scientific research, there remained “profound knowledge
gaps” in ecology, such as a clear understanding of “the central mechanisms driving ecosystems…communities…, and even population dynamics.” Animal behavior (along with other attributes such as physiology and genetics) is such a mechanism that can structure ecological interactions, and the study of behavioral ecology provides important insights into many fundamental ecological phenomena. For example, the well-known historical characterization of ecology as the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms (Andrewartha and Birch 1954) invokes numerous questions, such as: what factors influence coexistence among competing species, or between predators and their prey? Ultimately, the answers to these and other questions are best addressed with fine-scale, mechanistic studies of habitat selection, foraging behavior/prey selection, and movement/dispersal behavior.
Similarly, at the population level, insight into the spatial distribution of individuals could be gained with studies of territoriality, dominance hierarchies, and even mate choice.

Publication Year 2017
Title Book review: Behavioral ecology of the eastern red-backed salamander: 50 years of research
Authors Susan C. Walls, Joseph C. Mitchell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Herpetological Review
Index ID 70197218
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center