The Courtship of European Newts: An Evolutionary Perspective

  • T. R. Halliday


A full understanding of a biological system requires parallel consideration of both the form and the function of that system. This basic approach, the essence of post-Darwinian biology, has been widely applied to the morphology and physiology of animals and in recent years to some aspects of their behavior, notably by Niko Tinbergen and his students (Baerends et al. 1976). Rather little use of this dual approach has been made in the analysis of the causal mechanisms underlying behavior, however, although McFarland (1976) has shown how such an approach can lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms determining the precise order in which behavior patterns occur. It is the purpose of this paper to show how an understanding of the causation of courtship behavior in the smooth newt, Triturus vulgaris, which has been the subject of extensive experimental analysis, can be enhanced by a consideration of various functional aspects of the behavior.


Static Display Conspecific Male Secondary Sexual Character Heterospecific Male Tail Beat 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. R. Halliday
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyAnimal Behaviour Research GroupOxfordEngland

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