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Wynne-Edwards, Vero Copner

animal including book social

(1906–97) British biologist: proposed animal altruism as basis for population homeostasis control.

An Oxford graduate, Wynne-Edwards taught at McGill University, Montreal from 1930–46 and thereafter at Aberdeen. In Montreal he worked on the distribution of sea birds, making four round trips by Cunarder over the Atlantic in 1933 to see the changes in species with the seasons, and began to gather the results that were to be fully developed in his book Animal Dispersion in Relation to Social Behaviour (1962). He proposed that animal populations use hormonal devices and social mechanisms including territoriality, dominance hierarchies and grouping in flocks as methods of controlling population size; and that they will sacrifice their own survival and their fertility for the good of the group, whose survival depends on avoiding overuse of the available resources. This view of animal altruism provoked vigorous discussion and research in ethology and ecology; the book has been highly influential in its proposal for ‘population homeostasis’ and its ideas have been both criticized and developed by others, including D L Lack (1910–73), J Maynard Smith (1920– ).

[back] Wyatt, Thomas, The Elder (1503–1542) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION

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