The field of behavioral ecology developed (initially) around the
theory of kin selection (see Dugatkin 2001). Hamilton (1964)
quantified kin selection using an inequality (Hamilton's rule) that
incorporates relatedness between individuals with the respective
costs and benefits of a behavior. Ultimately, Hamilton's rule
indicates when a costly behavior would be selectively advantageous.
Not only did this provide a viable explanation for the evolution of
eusociality, but also set off a flood of kin recognition experiments
(reviewed in Fletcher & Michener 1987; Hepper 1991; Sherman et
al. 1997). Kin recognition, however, is a single example of a
much larger topic: recognition behavior.
Recognition behavior is a critical aspect in the life history of
organisms across all taxa. For example, it is used in differential
treatment of kin, preferential selection of mates, and consistent
discrimination between feeding and/or breeding habitats. Indeed,
recognition behavior is relevant for virtually all inter- and
intra-specific interactions in which any form of discrimination
occurs. Because of its importance, considerable effort has been put
forth to describe the underlying common components of recognition
systems (Sherman et al. 1997). Explanations of these systems
typically subdivide the behavior into three main components:
expression, perception and action (Holmes & Sherman 1983; Reeve
1989; Starks 2004). The expression component refers to the
development of recognition cues, the perception component refers to
the detection and assessment of cues, and the action component
refers to the resultant behavior given the assessment of the cues.
My lab uses the recognition system framework in much of our
- Dugatkin LA, Ed. (2001) Model systems in behavioral ecology:
integrating conceptual, theoretical, and empirical approaches
N.J.: Princeton University Press
- Fletcher DJC & Michener CD, Eds. (1987) Kin Recognition
in Animals. Wiley
- Hamilton WD (1964) The genetical evolution of social
behaviour. I & II. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:
- Hepper PG, Ed. (1991) Kin Recognition. Cambridge
- Holmes WG & Sherman PW (1983) Kin recognition in animals.
Am. Scient, 71: 46-55.
- Reeve HK (1989) The evolution of conspecific acceptance
thresholds. Am. Nat. 133: 407-435.
- Sherman, PW, Reeve HK, & Pfennig DW (1997) Recognition
systems. In: Krebs J, Davies N (eds) Behavioural Ecology
- Starks PT (2004) (Ed.) Recognition Systems. Annales
Zoologici Fennici volume 41, issue 6