Perhaps Tinbergen's greatest contribution to the understanding of ethology was the principle that comparative studies among related species could bring insight into how behavior evolved. His studies of gulls paved the way for the important field of phyologenetic studies of behavior. Contemporary science relies on cladistic techniques to generate phylogenies. Behavior comes into play in two ways. First, behavioral characteristics can be incorporated into the data used to generate the phylogeny. This acknowledges the importance of behavior as a characteristic of animals. Second, a phyologeny can be generated using molecular or morphological data, and then the behavioral data can be overlaid on the phylogeny. When this is done, the investigator can ask whether a behavior has arisen many times in the course of evolution (scattered across the phylogeny) or only once (restricted to a single clade). Comparative studies to test evolutionary hypotheses remain a valuable tool in animal behavior.

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copyright ©2003 Michael D. Breed, all rights reserved.Behavior is the culmination of many processes and properties acting together.