William Brewster Memorial Award, 2003: Douglas W. Mock
Douglas Mock has devoted his career to enriching our understanding of parental care and parental indifference through the study of aggressive interactions and parental intervention among young in broodreducing species of birds. This interest started early in his career with comparative work on brood reduction and parent-offspring conflict in Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias) and Great Egrets (A. alba). Besides being notable in many other respects, this early work dramatically illustrated considerable variability in both parent-offspring and sibling behavior, and laid to rest the question of whether birds were capable of siblicidal behavior.
Mock went on to investigate the extraordinary behaviors he so vividly documented with considerable scientific rigor, carefully constructing hypotheses and testing predictions for the interspecific variation in behavior he observed. Such hypothetical-deductive thinking has characterized his work throughout his career, which has ranged from siblicide, parent-offspring conflict, sexual conflict in relation to parental care, and the evolution of coloniality, and which has contributed to many aspects of avian lifehistory theory and ecology.
In recent work he has extended his interests into the field of behavioral endocrinology, investigating the relationship between laying order, aggression, and yolk steroids. Other current work, done in collaboration with P. L. Schwagmeyer, examines the evolutionary stability of social monogamy in House Sparrows (Passer domesticus).
Mock's wide-ranging work on social behavior among nestlings has led to numerous influential publications and was recently summarized, in conjunction with G. Parker, in The Evolution of Sibling Rivalry (Oxford University Press, 1997). This volume is particularly notable in the way that it reviews theory and field experiments designed to understand nestling social behavior at all levels of analysis.
For his insights into avian life histories, his outstanding contributions to our understanding of what goes on within avian families, his record of excellence in the integrative study of nestling birds, and his studies of avian social behavior, the American Ornithologists' Union takes great pleasure in presenting Douglas Mock with the 2003 William Brewster Memorial Award.
The William Brewster Memorial Award consists of a medal and an honorarium provided through the endowed William Brewster Memorial Fund of the American Ornithologists' Union. It is given annually to the author or coauthors (not previously so honored) of the most meritorious body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere published during the 10 calendar years preceding a given AOU meeting.