The ecology of exercise: mechanisms underlying Individual variation in behavior, activity, and performance: an introduction to symposium

Killen, S. S. , Calsbeek, R. and Williams, T. D. (2017) The ecology of exercise: mechanisms underlying Individual variation in behavior, activity, and performance: an introduction to symposium. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 57(2), pp. 185-194. (doi: 10.1093/icb/icx083) (PMID:28859409) (PMCID:PMC5886314)

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Wild animals often engage in intense physical activity while performing tasks vital for their survival and reproduction associated with foraging, avoiding predators, fighting, providing parental care, and migrating. In this theme issue we consider how viewing these tasks as “exercise”—analogous to that performed by human athletes—may help provide insight into the mechanisms underlying individual variation in these types of behaviors and the importance of physical activity in an ecological context. In this article and throughout this issue, we focus on four key questions relevant to the study of behavioral ecology that may be addressed by studying wild animal behavior from the perspective of exercise physiology: (1) How hard do individual animals work in response to ecological (or evolutionary) demands?; (2) Do lab-based studies of activity provide good models for understanding activity in free-living animals and individual variation in traits?; (3) Can animals work too hard during “routine” activities?; and (4) Can paradigms of “exercise” and “training” be applied to free-living animals? Attempts to address these issues are currently being facilitated by rapid technological developments associated with physiological measurements and the remote tracking of wild animals, to provide mechanistic insights into the behavior of free-ranging animals at spatial and temporal scales that were previously impossible. We further suggest that viewing the behaviors of non-human animals in terms of the physical exercise performed will allow us to fully take advantage of these technological advances, draw from knowledge and conceptual frameworks already in use by human exercise physiologists, and identify key traits that constrain performance and generate variation in performance among individuals. It is our hope that, by highlighting mechanisms of behavior and performance, the articles in this issue will spur on further synergies between physiologists and ecologists, to take advantage of emerging cross-disciplinary perspectives and technologies.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Killen, Professor Shaun
Authors: Killen, S. S., Calsbeek, R., and Williams, T. D.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Integrative and Comparative Biology
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN (Online):1557-7023
Published Online:21 July 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Integrative and Comparative Biology 57(2):185-194
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
594261The Influence of Individual Physiology on Group Behaviour in Fish SchoolsShaun KillenNatural Environment Research Council (NERC)NE/J019100/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED