Studying behavioural adaptations

  • Nicholas B. Davies


When I was a schoolboy, every Sunday I used to go to the local pinewoods and sand dunes to spend the day watching birds. I wrote an account of the species I saw for the school natural history competition and won a book by Niko Tinbergen (1953), ‘The Herring Gull’s World’. (Some time later I discovered that my prize was automatic as mine was the only entry.) Reading this book was a revelation. It revealed to me for the first time a whole new way of asking questions about natural history, a subject which until then I had assumed to consist simply of making species lists. Later, during my undergraduate days, the impression I got was the rather depressing one that you had to be incredibly clever to do research and that new ideas would emerge only from long hours in the laboratory or library. It was refreshing to return to Tinbergen’s book, with its emphasis on patient field observation, which gave the encouraging idea that any birdwatcher could make a great discovery if only he had a spare afternoon and a pair of binoculars.


Behavioural Ecology Behavioural Adaptation Lifetime Reproductive Success Cooperative Breeding Indirect Fitness 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas B. Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of CambridgeUK

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