Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 313–314 | Cite as

Chemical Ecology: Body Odor, Behavior, and Body Building

  • Marcel Dicke
Commentary: Reflections on 40 Years

A major issue in ecology is to understand “decision making” of organisms. Decisions on e.g., whom to accept as a sexual partner, where to forage, and how to allocate time to different activities. These choices are reflected in behavioral responses and influence an organism’s Darwinian fitness, i.e., its contribution to the next generation in the form of building bodies that further carry the organism’s genes. Every organism, whether plant, animal, or microbe needs to make such “decisions”. The information used during decision making frequently consists of chemical cues emitted by individuals, i.e. an organism’s body odor. Thus, chemical ecology can be described as the science of body odor, behavior, and body building. Although Darwinian fitness is the accomplishment of an individual, this individual lives in a complex community consisting of conspecific and heterospecific organisms. Moreover, the individual and the community that it is part of are exposed to abiotic conditions that...


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of EntomologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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