Niko Tinbergen

R. W. Burkhardt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary


Niko Tinbergen was a key figure in establishing ethology as a scientific discipline. His analytical and experimental talents complemented Konrad Lorenz's more intuitive theorizing; his work as a field biologist gave him perspectives that Lorenz lacked. Much of Tinbergen's early research focused on questions of behavioral causation. Later, in the 1950s, he focused more on questions of behavioral evolution and function (survival value). His formulation of the 'four questions' of ethology helped to define ethology and to provide a vision for its future. For his work, he received the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with Lorenz and with Karl von Frisch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Animal Behavior
EditorsMichael D Breed, Janice Moore
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9780080453378
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Behavioral ecology
  • Black-headed gull
  • Daniel Lehrman
  • Displacement activities
  • Ethology
  • Ethology's 'four questions'
  • Field biology
  • Herring gull
  • Kittiwake
  • Konrad Lorenz
  • Niko Tinbergen
  • Three-spined stickleback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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