Øistein Haugsten Holen
I'm a theoretical biologist. My interest for evolutionary biology was awakened when I read Did Darwin get it right? by John Maynard Smith and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. Inspired by these books, I started to study biology with mathematics as a side subject. Evolutionary ecology and animal behaviour soon got my attention, and remain my chief interests. My current research focuses on the evolution of defence traits. My doctoral thesis was on aggressive mimicry and Batesian mimicry.
I consider ethology and animal psychology as essential sources of knowledge. Information use cannot be understood without giving attention to its proximate aspects: The specific mechanisms by which animals focus attention to, learn about, and remember features of their external world greatly affect their behaviour and thus shape the selective environment of other organisms.
Much of my work rely on some sort of optimality argument. I use game theory, adaptive dynamics, kin selection models and simple population genetical models. I see modelling as serving a multitude of purposes. Prediction is an important part of theory development, and modeling activity will sooner or later cease to be meaningful if it is not connected to (and compared against) empirical data. Models are also useful in other ways: They clarify thinking and provide fresh perspectives, serve as metaphors that help us organize knowledge, and allow us to check the consistency of hypotheses and ideas. I put great value on these aspects of modelling.
- The evolution and expression of defence traits
- Information use and phenotypic plasticity
- Mimicry and aposematism
- Predator psychology
- Avian brood parasitism
- Parental investment and parent-offspring conflict
- Honest signalling
- Signal evolution - adaptation and constraint