chapter  8
18 Pages

Predictive Sociobiology: Mate Selection in Damselfishes and Brood Defense in White-Crowned Sparrows

WithDavid P. Barash

The application of evolutionary biology to social behavior provides a new general theory: organisms can be expected to behave so as to maximize their inclusive fitness. This permits a predictive approach to the study of behavior, exemplified by two studies-- mate selection in Hawaiian damselfishes and brood defense in white-crowned sparrows. The Pomacentrids, or damselfishes, provide some especially good test cases. This is a family of coral-reef inhabitants in which males typically establish, prepare and defend a territory on the reef floor. The real promise of sociobiology is that it truly does offer the opportunity of moving beyond nature/nurture defined analysis of how a behavior develops. The mate-selection system provides interesting opportunities for evolutionary strategies of deceit by males. Females might simply devalue a certain amount of the behavior of all males, as mere bravado put on for the benefit of the ladies.