When a behavior is observed, perhaps the first question that comes to mind is "why". Answering why--what role the behavior has in the life of the animal--tells us about the evolutionary forces that maintain, from generation to generation, behaviors in a population. Function is always a key question; however, biologists need to be mindful of avoiding speculating about adaptation without actually testing hypotheses. Adaptationist thinking has major pitfalls, as behaviors (and morphological structures) do not always have the function that biologists imagine them to have.
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copyright ©2003 Michael D. Breed, all rights reserved.