Introduction to the special issue on neuroethology.

This special issue highlights some recent advances in neuroethology based on research presented at the 13th International Congress of Neuroethology and associated satellite symposia in Brisbane, Australia, on July 15—20, 2018. The discipline of neuroethology combines methods and concepts from ethology with those from neurobiology to develop a comparative analysis of the mechanisms of behavior that takes into account a species’ ecology and evolutionary history. In his 1951 book The Study of Instinct, Nobel Prize winner Niko Tinbergen called on ethologists and neurophysiologists to join forces to search for mechanisms of motivated behaviors. He used the term “ethophysiology” to describe this integrative research approach, which he felt was crucial for developing a full understanding of behavior in all its complexities. At that time, “the ethologists were as naive about the neurophysiological significance of their findings as the neurophysiologists were about the behavioral implications of theirs” (Hoyle, 1984, p. 371). To rectify these limitations and to move forward, some of the earliest neuroethological research focused on understanding cellular mechanisms underlying the ethological concepts of releasers (sign stimuli) and fixed action patterns in species such as locusts and toads (Ewert, 1980; Hoyle, 1984). The breadth of neuroethological research soon expanded to include many other species, particularly those with distinct sensory or motor specializations (echolocating bats, electric fish, barn owls; Ewert, Capranica, & Ingle, 1983), as well as to understand neural mechanisms of more “general” behaviors, such as learning, memory, navigation, and communication. Molecular genetic, anatomical, and computational approaches are also part of the neuroethologist’s toolbox. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)