Macro-ecology of behavior: Is the existence of global patterns a privilege of those working with species diversity?

Webinar (Email for Zoom link)

Behavioral ecology emerged in the 1970s as the convergence between ethology and the recently created sociobiology. According to a current definition, “behavioral ecology is the integrative study of how and why behavioral mechanisms and processes mediate organisms’ interactions with their biotic and abiotic environment”. Although this definition implies interactions with the environment, a literature search in the top three behavioral journals shows that most studies are conducted in the laboratory. Moreover, the great majority of the field studies focus on a simple population in a single place. Based on these biased and fragmented data, would it be possible to predict the existence of large-scale behavioral patterns, such as those reported in macro-ecological studies on species diversity? Temperature and precipitation are key abiotic factors that may affect morphological, physiological, and behavioral traits, as well as the intensity of biotic interactions, such as parasitism and predation. The current availability of large-scale climatic maps offers unique opportunities to behavioral ecologists to test broad-scale hypotheses. In my talk, I first present a predictive conceptual framework for large-scale variations in behavioral traits. Then, I provide empirical examples of this predictive framework. First, I show how environmental conditions may influence the benefits of parental care in two animal groups: terrestrial arthropods and amphibians. Second, I show how temperature and precipitation influence the length of the breeding season and consequently the type of mating system and the degree of sexual dimorphism in harvestmen. I hope the talk stimulates further studies on the macro-ecology of other behavioral traits.

Speaker Information

Dr. Glauco Machado    
University of São Paulo,
Institute of Biosciences