Rotman Institute Post-doctoral Fellow in Philosophy of Biology and Cognitive Science, Rachael Brown has been accepted for publication in Biological Theory for her paper titled Identifying Behavioral Novelty.
Although there is no in-principle impediment to an EvoDevo of behavior, such an endeavor is not as straightforward as one might think; many of the key terms and concepts used in EvoDevo are tailored to suit its traditional focus on morphology, and are consequently difficult to apply to behavior. In this light, the application of the EvoDevo conceptual toolkit to the behavioral domain requires the establishment of a set of tractable concepts that are readily applicable to behavioral characters. Here, I begin the type of theoretical work that needs to be undertaken in order to achieve this, focusing in particular on the key concept of “novelty.” Building on existing criteria used for the identification of behavioral homology from behavioral ecology, I develop a set of operational criteria for identifying novelty in the behavioral domain. These criteria provide a conceptual foundation for the study of novelty in behavioral traits.