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Biology Seminar: February 21

Contributed by Nancy Pierce on 02/18/13 

Ronald Hoy, Cornell University
"The Janus-Faces of Predation and Escape:
a neurobehavioral analysis"

February 21    (pdf)
4:00 p.m.

CNS 112

Part of the Department's Seminar Series.

Everyone is welcome to attend!
Refreshments beforehand* (3:45-4:00pm)
CNS first floor lobby
*Please bring your own reusable mug for beverages. Reuse, reduce, recycle! 


Predatory behavior and its Janus-faced counterpart, escape, is at minimum a dyadic behavioral act, usually involving individuals of different species.  Over evolutionary time the hunter and the hunted develop a complex balancing act that becomes quasi-stable in spite of "arms races" that are part of such co-evolved relationships. In some respects, it resembles communication acts that support intraspecific social interactions such as mate calling and territorial marking, which also involves a signal emitter animal and a receiver animal. Classical hunter-hunted predatory acts can be expanded to parasite-host interactions because the evolutionary goals as well as their supporting neuromechanical mechanisms can be quite similar, depending on situation.  I will present present examples of each of these co-evolved behaviors involving dyadically-linked pairs with examples from both vertebrate and invertebrate animals and I will try to point out common neurobehavioral mechanisms that underlie such acts.  I will focus particularly on the predatory interactions in which the hunter's signal is auditory, such as the acoustic startle response and escape in insects, but I will also point out the inherently multimodal nature of the signal/cues deployed in these behaviors.  I will discuss the common evolutionary pressures that may or may not result in common neurobehavioral/ biomechanical mechanisms that underlie dyadic interactions of animals. 

It is clear that while evolutionary/phylogenetic history, adaptive imperative, behavioral context, and current utility all factor into the analysis of any behavioral acts, including predatory ones,  everything comes together in the specific interacting pair under analysis.  All are embodied acts by specific agents/actors and are appropriately scaled in space and time.  Specific examples will be given to support this point.


Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Nancy Pierce at or (607) 274-3161. We ask that requests for accommodations be made as soon as possible.

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