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Book Review – Understanding Animal Behaviour by Rory Putman

understanding animal behaviour rory putman whittles publishing book review

Inside Ecology reviews Understanding Animal Behaviour by Rory Putman (published by Whittles Publishing, 2018)…

understanding animal behaviour rory putman whittles publishing book review

Understanding Animal Behaviour is intended to provide an “accessible introduction to animal behaviour”. The book is organised into two main sections. The first part looks at the mechanics, or the “how”, of animal behaviour: how animals perceive their environment, the things that determine a response and what the response will be. The second half of the book looks at the “why” of animal behaviour: the things that have moulded and shaped behaviour.

Illustrated throughout by Catherine Putman, the text provides a relatively technical but accessible walk-through of the “physiological nuts and bolts”, and the function of behaviour — social organisation, reproduction, territoriality, aggression and navigation. The final chapter provides answers to questions that the the author has been asked over the years, such as: “Can animals lie?”; “Do animals use medicines?”; and, “Are animals capable of self-awareness?”

Focusing predominantly on mammals, in addition to birds and the occasional invertebrate, the information provided is developed from Putman’s essays and lectures, used as part of adult education courses. The author’s academic background is apparent in the style of writing, although this book is far removed from the detail and rigidity of an academic textbook. Overall, the book provides an engaging and educational read.

About the Author: Professor Putman is Emeritus Chair in Behavioural and Environmental Biology (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Visiting Professor at University of Glasgow and University of Utrecht (Netherlands). 


Book review written by Kate Priestman (CEnv, MCIEEM), Co-Founder of Inside Ecology. Kate has over sixteen years experience as an ecologist.  Prior to setting up her own consultancy business in 2012, Kate worked in London for over a decade, providing the lead ecology role for a number of high profile projects.  Kate works as a freelance writerauthorartist and editor.

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