At first sight just a small brown bird, the dunnock's unobtrusive appearance belies its extraordinary behaviour and mating patterns. In this book Nick Davies gives a full account of the mating systems of the dunnock or hedge sparrow, Prunella modularis, which include pairs, a male with two females, two males with one female, and several males with several females. Detailed observations, elegant field experiments, and DNA fingerprinting are combined to show how this variable social organization from selfish individuals competing to maximize their own reproductive success. Further experiments reveal how the cuckoo may thwart the dunnock's parental efforts. David Quinn's exquisite drawings provide a visual summary of the birds' behaviour. All students of ecology, evolution, and animal behaviour will want to be familiar with this work, which addresses the wider issues of the influence of ecology on mating systems and the evolutionary significance of conflict within and between species. This is the third volume in the Oxford Series in Ecology and Evolution, and the first in this series to tackly behavioural ecology.
Nick Davies is a Lecturer in Zoology at the University of Cambridge and co-editor with J. R. Krebs of the leading text in the field, Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach.
`His book is intended primarily for advanced undergraduate or postgraduate courses, but I hope it will encourage students at every level to appreciate that not all research needs high-technology apparatus, that there is much still to be learnt by careful long-term observation, and that members of Britain's fauna can have lives that are as interesting as exotic tropical forms. New Scientist
`Not only is the book fluently written and beautifully illustrated, it is also supremely user-friendly.'
` . . . without such as Nick Davies where would the comparative biologists be?' Times Higher Education Supplement
'useful even to those familiar with his work ... It should be particularly instructive for students, because the work addresses questions typical of the general field of behavioural ecology and demonstrates the value of combining experiment and description.'
P.L. Schwagmeyer, University of Oklahoma, Nature
'The organization and integration of these topics makes the book useful even to those familiar with his work. It should be particularly instructive for students.'
P.L. Schwagmeyer, University of Oklahoma, Nature, Vol 361, February 1993
`It provides an engaging introduction to current questions about the evolution of mating systems, a model of what can be achieved by a judicious blend of field observation and experimentation, and a salutary reminder that solutions to important problems in behavioural ecology may reside in one's own back yard.' Science
'In this monograph Davies summarizes a decade of work analysing how the different mating systems of dunnocks arise and their social and reproductive consequences. These studies provide the most detailed and convincing analysis to date of the factors that modulate parental effort in birds. ... it provides an engaging introduction to current questions about the evolution of mating systems, a model of what can be achieved by a judicious blend of field
observation and experimentation, and a salutary reminder that solutions to important problems in behavioral ecology may reside in one's own back yard.'
Robert Gibson, University of California, Science, Vol. 260, April 1993
'Chapters 1 and 2 should be required reading for all those planning field studies in behavioural ecology. ... Davies writes with clarity and logic, and with an evident affection for his birds which will make the complex story accessible and fascinating to a wide readership. ... As a model of study design, hypothesis testing by observation, and experiment, and clarity this book should be read by all interested in ecology, evolution and animal behaviour.
Further the results have wide significance and provide a fascinating and entertaining insight into the life of a not-so-typical little brown bird.'
Jeremy Wilson, Bird Study Vol 40:2 July 1993
'This book is not typical, it is outstanding. The story is so well written and srtuctured that by the end you are so familiar with the details of the research that you feel you had done it yourself ... the book also conveys the excitement and wonder which come when you start unravelling the private lives of your study species. It is both inspirational and instructive. I urge you to make up your own mind and buy the book: the cost is minimal and the benefits
are large. The book is a fascinating insight into a bird which is only dull in appearance.'
Ken Norris, Ibis 135, 1993
'It is very readable and due to the many tables and graphs easy to understand, it has a clear overview and scientific at the same time. David Quinn's excellent drawings offer examples of the social behaviour of the dunnock. Attractively priced as well, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to every ornithologist.'
Corax (3) 1993
'a detailed review of field and laboratory studies on the dunnock '
Laura Beani, Ethology, Ecology & Evolution, 6:1994
'Impressively complete evidence'
Times Literary Supplement
'In this well-written monograph, Davies brings together information from a variety of papers written in the past decade ... Davies book is almost perfect as a focus of, say, graduate seminars in behavioral ecology ... One of the strengths of this monograph is that it shows just what can be accomplished in behavioral ecology working with a population of wild, banded birds. For this reason alone, Davies' book should be exceedingly useful for students planning
research projects. I highly recommend Nick Davies' book for all students of bird behavior. Certainly, every university library should have this title in their collection, and behavioral ecologists will
want their own copoies.'
Randall Breitwisch, University of Dayton, The Auk 111(1) 1994