Behavioral Quotes (6 quotes)
Behavioral avoidance, not physiological adaptations, is an organism’s primary response to an environmental challenge. This point is elementary, but it is by no means trivial.
Biological disciplines tend to guide research into certain channels. One consequence is that disciplines are apt to become parochial, or at least to develop blind spots, for example, to treat some questions as “interesting” and to dismiss others as “uninteresting.” As a consequence, readily accessible but unworked areas of genuine biological interest often lie in plain sight but untouched within one discipline while being heavily worked in another. For example, historically insect physiologists have paid relatively little attention to the behavioral and physiological control of body temperature and its energetic and ecological consequences, whereas many students of the comparative physiology of terrestrial vertebrates have been virtually fixated on that topic. For the past 10 years, several of my students and I have exploited this situation by taking the standard questions and techniques from comparative vertebrate physiology and applying them to insects. It is surprising that this pattern of innovation is not more deliberately employed.
No one should feel at all offended or threatened by the obvious fact that we are not all born entirely blank, or entirely the same, in our mixture of the broad behavioral propensities defining what we call ‘temperament.’
Over the years it has become clear that adjustments to the physical environment are behavioral as well as physiological and are inextricably intertwined with ecology and evolution. Consequently, a student of the physiology of adaptation should not only be a technically competent physiologist, but also be familiar with the evolutionary and ecological setting of the phenomenon that he or she is studying.
When Richard Dawkins first published his idea of a meme, he made it clear he was speaking of “a unit of imitation” … Memes were supposed to be exclusive triumphs of humanity. But memes come in two different kinds—behavioral and verbal. … behavioral memes began brain-hopping long before there were such things as human minds.
While our behavior is still significantly controlled by our genetic inheritance, we have, through our brains, a much richer opportunity to blaze new behavioral and cultural pathways on short timescales.