Behavioral Flexibility: Interpretations and Prospects

Part of the Developments in Primatology: Progress and Prospects book series (DIPR)


Phenotypic plasticity represents sets of mechanisms, including behavioral flexibility, of adjustment and adaptation to local conditions that may be components of ontogenetic processes (West-Eberhard, 2003). Slobodkin (1968) and others (Miller, 1956; Slobodkin and Rapoport, 1974; Lerner, 1970; Hochachka and Somero, 1973; Lande, 1980) have proposed a predictive theory whereby natural selection favors different mechanisms within and between species for accomodation to local environmental (abiotic and biotic, including social) variations. These authors suggest that the mechanism(s) favored will be a function of the temporal and/or spatial patterning of environmental changes (e.g., fluctuations in food supply, temperature, or rainfall) relative to the organism’s generation time (T, “environmental grain”). The proposed mechanism(s) may differ with respect to their rates of activation (i.e., relatively flexible to relatively inflexible) and their sensitivities to local conditions (i.e., relatively attentive to relatively inattentive, see Chapter 2).


Social Insect Niche Breadth Response Accuracy Behavioral Flexibility Cooperative Breeding 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fayetteville State UniversityFayetteville
  2. 2.Theoretical Primatology ProjectFayetteville
  3. 3.Community Conservation, Inc.Gays Mills

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