Friday, June 27, 2014

Stephen C. Stearns - Economic Decisions for the Foraging Individual

Here's another useful video lecture. It's from the Open Yale Course 'EB122: Principles of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior', taught by Stephen C. Stearns, Edward P. Bass Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Here is his overview of the lecture:
There are several ways to examine the behaviors of organisms when they forage or hunt for food or mates. These behaviors become more complex in higher organisms, such as primates and whales, which can hunt in groups. Foragers and hunters have been shown to examine the marginal cost and marginal benefit of continuing an action and then adjust their behaviors accordingly. They are also able to handle risk by hoarding resources.
Here is the course home page on Yale Open Courses.

This material is of interest because of the importance of economic analyses of decisions by living animals, and foraging is an area where there's been considerable progress. Behavioural ecology is one of the areas in science where you'll regularly run into talk of common currencies. Behavioural ecologists are sometimes relatively agnostic about the mechanisms producing behaviour, but sometimes intensely interested in them. (The same course includes a useful session - number 10 - on genomic conflict.)

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