More than 50 years ago, behaviorist Niko Tinbergen defined the foundation of behavioral ecology, using four basic questions derived from Aristotlean logic:
- Mechanism (causation): How does this behavior occur in an individual?
- Ontogeny (development): How does this behavior arise in an individual?
- Adaptive value (function): Why is this behavior adaptive for the species? [Why is the wrong term, says William Garner; correct term is How.]
- Phylogeny (evolution): How does this behavior arise in the species?