Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after Niko Tinbergen defined four questions to deal with when studying animal behavior which are the ontogeny, proximate causes, phylogeny of behavior and survival value.
If a living thing has a characteristic which gives them with a selective benefit (i.e. has an adaptive significance) in a new environment natural selection will probably favor it. This was originally suggested as the theory of natural selection by Charles Darwin. Adaptive significance therefore describes the beneficial qualities, with regards to increased reproduction and survival, a trait conveys. Genetic differences in individuals cause behavioral differences that in turn drive differences in reproductive success, adaptation and ultimately evolution.
Human behavioral ecology or human evolutionary ecology applies the principles of evolutionary theory and optimization to the analysis of cultural diversity and human behavioral. HBE investigates the adaptive style of behaviors, traits and life histories of people in an ecological context.
One goal of modern human behavioral ecology is to find out how social and ecological factors effect and shape behavioral flexibility within and between human populations. Among other things, HBE tries to explain variation in human behavior as adaptive solutions to the competing life history demands of development, growth, parental care, reproduction and mate acquisition.
Human behavioral ecology rests upon a basis of evolutionary theory. This contains aspects of both general evolutionary theory and established middle-level evolutionary theories, also. Aspects of general evolutionary theory contain:
Sexual selection, the theory which competition for mates between individuals of the identical sex outcomes in differential mating and reproduction.
Natural selection, the procedure by which individual organisms with positive traits are more likely to survive and reproduce.
Kin selection, the alterations in gene frequency across generations that are driven a minimum of in part by interactions between connected individuals.
Behavioural ecology is the analysis of the evolutionary and ecological foundation for animal behavior and the roles of behavior in permitting animals to adjust to their ecological niches.
Some easy examples of the questions it tries to answer are:
Why do some bird species mate for life, however others not?
Why do lions stay in groups, while few other cat species do?
Why do some animal species establish territories, while others live in huge herds?
Key topics within behavioral ecology contain vigilance, foraging, mating systems, sexual selection and territoriality.Behavioral ecology is strongly allied with ethology, however the latter tends to concentrate more on proximate causes (including genetic bases, environmental stimuli or physiological mechanisms) for behavior.