All's well that begins Wells: Celebrating 60 years of Animal Behaviour and 36 years of research on anuran social behaviour

Mark A. Bee, Joshua J. Schwartz, Kyle Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The scientific study of frogs and toads as important systems in behavioural ecology traces its roots to an influential review published in this journal 36 years ago (Wells 1977a, 'The social behaviour of anuran amphibians', Animal Behaviour, 25, 666-693). In just 28 pages, Wells summarized the state of knowledge on important behaviours associated with anuran breeding and introduced an evolutionary framework 'for understanding the relationship between social behaviour and ecology' (page 666) that was largely lacking in earlier treatments of this group. Not only is Wells's review one of the most cited papers ever published in Animal Behaviour, it is also responsible for setting broad research agendas and shaping much of our current thinking on social behaviour in an entire order of vertebrates. As such, it is entirely appropriate that we honour Wells's review and its contributions to the study of animal behaviour in this inaugural essay celebrating 12 papers selected by the community as the most influential papers published in the 60-year history of Animal Behaviour. In our essay, we place Wells's review in historical context at the dawn of behavioural ecology, highlight the field's progress in answering some major research questions outlined in the review, and provide our own prospectus for future research on the social behaviour of anuran amphibians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-18
Number of pages14
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Norman Lee, Katrina Schrode, Michelle Scott, Jessie Tanner, James Tumulty, Jessica Ward, and especially Dale Roberts and Brian Sullivan for helpful comments on previous versions of the manuscript. The authors gratefully acknowledge the National Science Foundation , the National Institutes of Health , the Smithsonian Institution , the University of Minnesota , Pace University and East Carolina University for supporting our research programmes on anurans over the years. We are especially indebted to Kent Wells for being a prescient trailblazer and ardent advocate for research on anuran social behaviour.


  • Aggression
  • Anuran
  • Call timing
  • Chorus
  • Energetics
  • Mate choice
  • Parental care
  • Social behaviour


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