chapter  9
29 Pages

Tradition and the Social Transmission of Behavior in Animals

WithDanilo Mainardi

Most of the theorizing in sociobiology has centered on differences in behavior between individuals that are taken as genetic and the differential survival of the genotypes presumed responsible for those differences. The social transmission of acquired habits is a phenomenon apart and one with precise adaptive meanings: it is qualitatively different from other adaptive behavioral mechanisms. The social transmission of information emerged late in the history of life and it probably depends on certain social characteristics of the populations. The chapter describes the likelihood that once a species acquires the capacity for social transmission there is an increase in selective pressures favoring the development or reinforcement of certain collateral capacities that facilitate such transmission. The nongenetic evolution of behavior can be an efficacious means for populations to adapt rapidly to changing situations or to conquer new and different environments. The formation of animal traditions is a noticeable and central subphenomenon in the general field of social transmission.