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The Operation of a Commercial Animal Kennel

The basic question of whether animal behavior is determined by genes or environment appeared to be resolved in the original synthesis discussed above. The concept of epigenesis captured the notion that development is not directed toward a pre-formed end, but occurs as an interaction between genes and environment. Research, however, has not been completely successful in describing the nature of this interaction. Ideas such as open instincts and learning-instinct intercalation, as examples, do not sufficiently provide specificity of the scope of interaction they imply. Development does not occur as the programmed or even as the statistical interaction of genes and environment. Rather, development appears to consist of individual, largely self-organizing processes involving genes, cells, physiological systems, and the so-called "outer" environment. As is true of evolution, development is not goal-directed, but rather is "based on spit and bailing wire; that is, on making do with what is available. It is a vector that has direction in terms of its constituent processes."

The most difficult point to grasp is that genes are not causal entities. Information about the "finished" animal does not reside exclusively in the genes any more than it resides in the environment. Identifying genes as causal agents remains a useful concept, however, because it makes possible simple manipulations and predictions of behavior in a particular environment. The concept is made more attractive because proposed alternatives to simple causation "often invoke maximal dialectical complexity (everything affects everything), a stance that gives only vague guidance to research."

Amplifying the concept of animal behavior systems provides many opportunities for producing a more coherent picture of the fit between animals and their environments. A system of animal behavior can provide a framework for integrating the answers to synthesis questionsùconc...

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The Operation of a Commercial Animal Kennel. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 04:17, August 23, 2017, from
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