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This book introduces the reader to the power of observation before, and sometimes instead of, experimental manipulation in the study of animal behavior. It starts with simple and easily accessible methods suitable for student projects, before going on to demonstrate the possibilities that now exist for far more sophisticated analyses of observational data. At a time when animal welfare considerations are attracting political as well as scientific debate, the potential for non-intrusive studies on animals is being increasingly recognized. Observation emerges as a valuable alternative approach, often yielding highly informative results in situations (such as on zoos, farms or for wild animals) where more invasive experimental techniques would be undesirable, unethical or just plain impossible. However, to justify its place alongside experimentation as a rigorous scientific method, observation needs to be just as disciplined and systematic and have just as much attention paid to project design in the way that observations are made and recorded.
Observing Animal Behaviour takes the reader through all these stages: from the initial observations, to the formulation of hypotheses, and their subsequent testing with further systematic observations. Although designed principally as a companion text for advanced undergraduate and students taking courses in animal behavior, this accessible text will be essential reading for anyone wanting to study animal behavior using observational methods rather than experimentation, and assumes no previous knowledge of animals, statistics or scientific method. It will be of particular relevance and use to those professional researchers and consultants in the behavioral sciences who seek a compact but comprehensive introduction to the quantitative observation of animal behavior.
1. The power of observation
2. Asking the right question
3. When all you need is one
4. Three principles of observational design
5. The selective observer
6. Down to detail
7. Observing in zoos, on farms, and in the wild
8. Analysing observations
9. Further observations
10. Observing the Future
Appendix 1: Some random numbers
Appendix 2: Power and sample size
Appendix 3: Beaufort wind scale