The study, by Dr Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia (UK), examined how breeding, sexuality, monogamy and ideas of the family were presented within the BBC's classic television wildlife documentaries.
claims the documentaries focus on human "norms" of sexuality and family and any alternative behaviors are side-lined or ignored.
"Heterosexuality is upheld as the norm in wildlife documentaries and the idea of the family it presents is one which equates the family with heterosexuality," he
chose BBC documentaries because of their dominance and reputation in the field of wildlife filmmaking.
In particular, he
examined the use of voiceovers because of the significant role they play in wildlife documentaries.
"Voiceovers tell the audience how to make sense of what is being seen," said Mills
"Indeed, it is the necessity of envisaging a sense-making voiceover for sequences or images that is likely to be one of the factors taken into account when editorial decisions are being made about what to include or exclude from a program.
The environment, via the voiceover, is interpreted and understood via decidedly human cultural norms and assumptions."
suggests that forms of animal behavior which are commonly missing in such programming demonstrate how ideas of sexuality, monogamy and family persist within human debates, adding: "The descriptions of animal behavior, because of their association with the 'natural', play a telling role in the policing of human behavior."
speculates that wildlife documentaries could usefully provide a view of alternative lifestyles and non-traditional ways of organizing families and social interaction.