This article is dedicated to the memory of Hans Distel, co-author of the commentary that triggered this debate (Hudson & Distel 2013) and who's untimely death prevented him from co-authoring this reply. The thoughts expressed here owe much to long discussions with him over many years on the difficulty of defining, measuring and interpreting behavior, particularly in developmental contexts.
Behavioral Epiphenomena Revisited: Reply to Skok and Škorjanc
Version of Record online: 17 JUN 2014
© 2014 Blackwell Verlag GmbH
Volume 120, Issue 8, pages 739–741, August 2014
How to Cite
Hudson, R. (2014), Behavioral Epiphenomena Revisited: Reply to Skok and Škorjanc. Ethology, 120: 739–741. doi: 10.1111/eth.12264
- Issue online: 1 JUL 2014
- Version of Record online: 17 JUN 2014
- Manuscript Revised: 7 MAY 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 7 MAY 2014
- Manuscript Received: 28 APR 2014
- agonistic behavior;
- adaptive behavior
In a recent article in this journal, Ethology, 2014 present arguments as to why fighting in piglets during suckling may not be an epiphenomenon as we had previously suggested Ethology, 119, 2013, 353 and provide several alternative explanations. Although the new information Skok and Škorjanc bring to this debate is carefully considered and important, I argue here that it is not sufficient to counter our original claim that fighting among piglets (and kittens) during suckling may be an epiphenomenon, a largely inconsequential by-product, of developmental processes anticipating the use of these behaviors and associated anatomical structures in later functional contexts. However, the points Skok and Škorjanc raise contribute importantly to identifying areas where further information and experimental work are needed to resolve this and related behavioral issues. I therefore conclude that this debate, independent of any particular final outcome, constructively points to the general difficulty and need for caution in interpreting behavior in seemingly ‘obvious’ functional terms, and particularly during development.