Trends in animal behaviour research (1968-2002): Ethoinformatics and the mining of library databases

Terry J. Ord, Emília P. Martins, Sidharth Thakur, Ketan K. Mane, Katy Börner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We applied modern bioinformatic tools to titles and keywords of animal behaviour publications contained in an electronic library database to examine trends in animal behaviour research. We provide the first quantitative overview of animal behaviour research covering 42 836 documents published in the last three decades, across 25 journals. Our study confirms several patterns noted by previous reviews, and offers several novel insights into the history of our field. Profound historical distinctions between early ethology and comparative psychology have been recently bridged by shared interest in communication and social behaviour, and research from physiology and applied areas. Although we reiterate the rise of sexual selection and mating behaviour as prominent areas of research, we also show that interest in mechanism and development has proven particularly resilient over the years. Currently, researchers at hundreds of institutions worldwide are studying animal behaviour. Domesticated animals, foraging/dispersal and learning/memory are topics that appear most frequently in publications from regions that have little history of animal behaviour research, suggesting that these subjects are central to the early development of the discipline. Overall, the study of animal behaviour is healthy, growing, and becoming progressively more integrative over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1399-1413
Number of pages15
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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