Sensory Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution
Throughout their lives animals must complete many tasks, including finding food, avoiding predators, attracting mates, and navigating through a complex and dynamic environment. Consequently they have evolved a staggering array of sensory organs that are fundamental to survival and reproduction and shape much of their evolution and behaviour. Sensory ecology deals with how animals acquire, process, and use information in their lives, and the sensory systems involved. It investigates the type of information that is gathered by animals, how it is used in a range of behaviours, and the evolution of such traits. It deals with both mechanistic questions (e.g. how sensory receptors capture information from the environment, and how the physical attributes of the environment affect information transmission) and functional questions (e.g. the adaptive significance of the information used by the animal to make a decision). Recent research has dealt more explicitly with how sensory systems are involved with and even drive evolutionary change, including the formation of new species.