Optimality models in behavioural biology

J.M. McNamara, A.I. Houston & E.J. Collins
The action of natural selection results in organisms that are good at surviving and reproducing. We show how this intuitive idea can be given a formal definition in terms of fitness and reproductive value. An optimal strategy maximizes fitness, and reproductive value provides a common currency for comparing different actions. We provide a broad review of models and methods that have been used in this area, stressing the conceptual issues and exposing the logic of evolutionary explanations.

Some key words:
Natural selection, fitness, reproductive value, optimization, game theory, evolutionarily stable strategy.