by Dr. James C. Ha

11 August 1998
Revised 11 April 2001

This is a second draft of a reading list in animal behavior. There are many more books of interest, but this would provide a good start to anyone with an interest in reading more. Many of these authors have additional writings: I have listed those that I consider to be their best or most appropriate work. All books, except perhaps the Advanced ones, are understandable to anyone with a minimum background or interest in biology. A number of these are out-of-print: check the library or used bookstores. I welcome suggestions for additions to this list.


Alcock, J.: Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary Approach

Drickamer, L. et al.: Animal Behavior: Mechanisms, Ecology and Evolution

Goodenough, et al.: Perspectives on Animal Behavior

Maier, R.: Comparative Animal Behavior: An Evolutionary and Ecological Approach

Klopfer, P.: An Introduction to Animal Behavior: Ethology's First Century (a very readable introduction to the history of modern animal behavior)


Brackman, A.: A Delicate Arrangement (a description of the relationship, or lack thereof, between Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace)

Darwin, C.: The Origin of the Species (the classic that started it all, not an easy read and not the best introduction to evolution as we now understand it: read it for the historical perspective)

Dawkins, R.: The Selfish Gene (a wonderful and thought-provoking book about the implications of modern Darwinism)

Dennett, D.: Darwin's Dangerous Idea (a very recent book by a philosopher of science about the deeper implications of Darwin's view of evolution)

Gould, S.J.: (numerous collections of essays) (sometimes controversial, always entertaining: take some of it with a grain of salt)

Stone, I.: The Origin (an historical novel about Darwin's life: a great introduction to his life and times)


Fossey, D.: Gorillas in the Mist (one of "Leakey's Women," along with Goodall and Galdikas, this and the next two books illustrate the payoffs to patient, time-consuming field work and the risks of attempting to do science without training)

Galdika, B.: Reflections of Eden (Leakey student's study of orangs in Indonesia)

Goodall, J.: In the Shadow of Man (Leakey student's study of chimpanzees)

Heinrich, B.: Ravens in Winter (fascinating and eccentric study of a difficult-to-study species)

Lorenz, K.: King Solomon's Ring (very readable insight into the early days of ethology, one of my most recommended readings in behavior)

Mowat, F.: Woman in the Mist (a different, and more objective, view of Fossey's work and life with gorillas)

Schaller, G.: Year of the Gorilla (story of the early work with wild gorillas which laid the groundwork for Fossey)

Tinbergen, N.: Curious Naturalist (the life and studies of one of the founders of ethology)

Wilson, E.O.: The Naturalist (autobiography of the brilliant Harvard scientist who established the direction of much of behavior research for years to come: winner of several book awards)


Lorenz, K.: Man Meets Dog (ethology's founder contemplates the behavior and evolution of humans and domestic dogs)

Lorenz, K.: On Aggression (a series of essays on aggression and its role in animals and humans)

Markowitz, H.: Behavioral Enrichment in the Zoo (the behind-the- scenes story of a series of imaginative attempts to reproduce natural behaviors in captive animals)

References for Applied Animal Behaviorists and Veterinarians
I recommend books by:
    Patricia McConnell
        Puppy Primer (Scidmore and  McConnell)
        Beginning Family Dog Training
    John Wright
        The Dog Who Would Be King
    Bonnie Beaver
        Canine Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians
    Daniel Tortora
        The Right Dog For You


Axelrod, R.: Evolution of Cooperation (very readable intro to game theory and the evolution of social behavior)

Lehner, P.: Handbook of Ethological Methods (the bible for methodology in animal behavior research)

Mech, L.D.: The Wolf (detailed report of a long-term wolf research program)

Poundstone, W.: Prisoner's Dilemma (a biography of an interesting character, John Von Neumann, who invented game theory, and the application of games to human behavior)

Wilson, E.O & B. Holldobler: The Ants (the main resource on ant behavior: readable too!)

Wilson, E.O.: Insect Societies (everything you wanted to know about ants, bees, and wasps, and probably more)

Wilson, E.O.: Sociobiology: A New Synthesis (the book that started an entirely new field)