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Trends Ecol Evol. 2006 Jul;21(7):356-61. Epub 2006 Apr 5.

Where is behavioural ecology going?

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  • Division of Biology and NERC Centre for Population Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park, Ascot, Berkshire, UK, SL5 7PY. i.owens@imperial.ac.uk


Since the 1990s, behavioural ecologists have largely abandoned some traditional areas of interest, such as optimal foraging, but many long-standing challenges remain. Moreover, the core strengths of behavioural ecology, including the use of simple adaptive models to investigate complex biological phenomena, have now been applied to new puzzles outside behaviour. But this strategy comes at a cost. Replication across studies is rare and there have been few tests of the underlying genetic assumptions of adaptive models. Here, I attempt to identify the key outstanding questions in behavioural ecology and suggest that researchers must make greater use of model organisms and evolutionary genetics in order to make substantial progress on these topics.

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