Survival Strategies: Cooperation and Conflict in Animal Societies

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9780674005570: Survival Strategies: Cooperation and Conflict in Animal Societies

Did you know that Tasmanian hens have two husbands? That cellular slime molds commit suicide? That vampire bats will share food with hungry fellow bats and that hanuman langurs commit infanticide? Why creatures great and small behave in such fascinating and seemingly perplexing ways is explained in this delightful account of the evolutionary foundations of animal social behavior.

Only in recent years have biologists and ethologists begun to apply careful evolutionary thinking to the study of animal societies--and with spectacular results. This book presents the choicest of these findings, with a remarkable wealth of insights into the myriad strategies that animals have developed to perpetuate their kind. In an irresistible style, Raghavendra Gadagkar explores the strategies of cooperation and conflict adopted by animals--from the lordly lion to the primitive wasp worker--as they choose mates, raise their young, communicate with others, and establish the division of labor necessary to feed and protect the group and safeguard their territory.

Whether focusing on the birds or the bees, this book offers both superb descriptions and lucid explanations of many different behaviors encountered in the animal world: why a ground squirrel will sound an alarm--even risk its own safety--to warn fellow squirrels of impending danger; why weaver ant larvae donate silk for nest building; why house mice raise their offspring in a communal nursery; and how animals can recognize the relatives they want to favor--or avoid.

Illustrated with both photographs and explanatory diagrams, this expert and inviting tour of the social world of animals will inform and charm anyone curious about the motivations behind the amazing range of activity in the animal kingdom.

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About the Author:

Raghavendra Gadagkar is Professor and Chairman of the Centre for Ecological Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science and Honorary Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India.

From Library Journal:

Social animals and apparent altruism bothered Darwin as he developed the theory of natural selection, and they continue to puzzle evolutionary scientists. Gadagkar, author of both technical and popular works on evolution and a senior fellow of the Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, examines the fine balance of cooperation and conflict inherent in the social behavior that leads to such diverse phenomena as sterile worker bees, suicidal cellular slime molds, and alarm calls among ground squirrels. While it is easy to see, for example, how queen bees "exploit" sterile workers, Gadagkar shows how worker bees also exploit the queen. He uses game theory and kin selection, a theory based on the "relatedness" of the players, to show how social behavior and apparent altruism can evolve according to strict natural selection. Kin selection is not universally accepted, however; for an alternative theory, try Amotz and Avish Zahavi's The Handicap Principle (LJ 4/15/97). Still, Gadagkar's clear prose avoids heavy mathematical digressions. Highly recommended for both general and academic collections.?Bruce Neville, Univ. of New Mexico Lib., Albuquerque
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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