Biology Department Will Fill Position With Behavioralist

A division of the Biology Department is now conducting a search for a behavioral biologist that will consider sociobiologists among candidates for the tenured position.

The position is in the field of vertebrate behavior, "and that certainly does include someone who characterizes himself as a sociobiologist," Richard C. Lewontin '50, chairman of the division of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, said yesterday. Sociobiology is the study of social behavior in animals.

Wilson, a member of the division's search committee, said yesterday that the committee would consider, in addition to sociobiologists, "behavioral ecologists," biologists who study the adaptation of populations to the environment.

Rosovsky said last night that he arranged the funding for the position last fall because he was "convinced" by Lewontin "that this was an important area in which they are interested in searching."

One of the prime candidates for the position is Robert L. Trivers, associate professor of Biology, who is a sociobiologist.


"Obviously Bob Trivers is getting to be a well-known young scientist," Wilson said. "We want to review his situation before it gets too late, before he gets snatched away."

Wilson explained that under the original plan formulated by then-dean of the Faculty John T. Dunlop in the early 1970s, the search committee was supposed to fill three positions in behavioral biology.

Trivers was one of those initial appointments as an untenured assistant professor of Biology who would do research on primate and human behavior, Wilson said. The other appointment to emerge from the committee was that of Berthold K. Holldobler, professor of Biology and a specialist in insect behavior.

C. Richard Taylor, Agassiz Professor Zoology, said last night that the renewed search shows no change in the emphasis of the department.

He said that there has been no "reevaluation" of the direction of the department since Dunlop's order for more behavioral biologists five years ago.

The search committee will probably consider experimentalists, who are skilled at fieldwork with vertebrate populations, Taylor explained, rather than "theoretical" behavioralists, like Wilson