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This course is intended to provide a broad understanding of how animals interact with each other and with their environment. This course will cover the control, development, adaptive significance and evolution of behaviour. We will use a combination of traditional lectures, selected case studies, laboratory and fieldwork to learn fundamental concepts animal behaviour. Additional reading of scientific papers will be an essential adjunct to the lectures and especially to assessments.
Using a mix of traditional lectures, selected case studies, and fieldwork, this course aims to provide a broad understanding of the adaptive significance of behaviour: how animals interact with each other and with their environment. We explore the neural and hormonal basis of behaviour, as well as core subjects, like why and how animals communicate or have sex. This course is suited to anyone who may have wondered if animals can be dishonest, and if so, whether they are ‘actively lying’, and thus self-aware? Additional reading of scientific papers is an essential adjunct to the lectures and to assessments.Goals of the CourseThe primary aims of the course are to provide an understanding of what animals do (behaviour) and why, based on field and theoretical work, including case studies. This course is designed as a platform for BIOL383 Behavioural Ecology and BIOL355 Neurons, Hormones and Behaviour, and links with BIOL250 Principals of Animal Physiology in order to provide a strong theoretical platform for students interested in Animal Behaviour.
In this course, I will develop critical competence in the core academic discipline through:Up-to-date knowledge of the kinds of questions that are meaningful in the study of animal behaviour and how these questions can be answered scientifically (assessment task: quizzes and final exam; GA: Mastery of discipline).Ability to evaluate scientific primary literature and the scientific presentation of data (assessment tasks: quizzes and exam - involve readings on Learn; GA: Mastery of discipline)Ability to critically evaluate the adaptive significance of patterns of behaviour (assessment task: laboratory write-up and final exam; GA: Mastery of discipline)Ability to describe mechanisms that enable animals to interact with their surroundings (assessment task: final exam; GA: Mastery of discipline).Ability to explain how behavioural ecologists study animal behaviour and how knowledge of animal behaviour is used by different disciplines and cultures (assessment task: quizzes and laboratory write-up; GA: Mastery of discipline, cultural competence)Ability to identify the broader implications of knowledge about animal behaviour for biology and society (assessment task: quizzes and final exam; GA: Mastery of discipline, community engagement, global awareness, cultural competence)Ability to conceptualise a scientific hypothesis, develop and explain the idea and your results in depth (assessment task: laboratory write-up; GA: Mastery of discipline, employability, innovation & enterprise).Ability to extrapolate in-depth knowledge from ‘model organisms’ to other animals (assessment task: final exam; GA: Mastery of discipline, employability, innovation & enterprise).Transferable SkillsAs a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:Learn how to extrapolate information from one source to a novel situation. Through the use of case studies, we aim to show how in-depth learning from one system enables you to hypothesize or predict what might happen in a different system, based on knowledge of the natural history of an animal. Extrapolation of knowledge is a fundamental skill in an era where access to information is overwhelming, meaning that a conceptual understanding that can lead to critical thinking in different areas is paramount. (Employable, innovative and enterprising; Globally Aware)Learn how to read primary scientific literature. This course relies heavily on the use of primary literature. Learning how to understand scientific writing enables you to learn scientific writing, and to delve into information beyond the - often incorrect - gloss portrayed by media or summarized reports. (Employable, innovative and enterprising)The measurement and statistical analysis of animal behaviour. You will have the opportunity to watch a variety of animals and learn different methods for quantifying behaviour; the virtual lab will review simple statistical methods needed for the analysis of behavioural data. These methods will be critical for writing lab reports, and learning scientific writing. (Employable, innovative and enterprising)
BIOL112 or PSYC105
Students must attend one activity from each section.
Course content / Hōtaka (subject to change)Jim Briskieo How to read papers and interpret datao Migration and navigationo Dispersal and habitat selectiono Mating systemso Parental careo Behavioural adaptations to avoid diseases and parasiteso Behaviour and conservation biologyo Life history evolution and conservation of NZ birdsElissa Camerono Living in Groupso Altruism and cooperationo Sexual Conflicto Sex allocationXimena Nelsono Communication (honest and dishonest)o Antipredator adaptations and mimicryo Basic neural basis of behaviouro Basic hormonal basis of behaviouro Case study of neural and hormonal basis of behaviour: birdsong
For BIOL272, you must attain an average score of at least 40% for the two lab reports and an average score of at least 40% in the exam and the combined quizzes, AND score at least 50% overall for the course, to be awarded a passing grade.
Reading / Pukapuka AkoThere is no set textbook for this course. Material or links to primary sources (including scientific papers and chapters from books) will be posted on Learn. Additionally, reading of material in Goodenough J, McGuire B, Jakob E (2009) Perspectives on Animal Behavior. 3rd Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., which can be found in the Library, is recommended.Electronic Distribution of Course MaterialInformation about the course, including the course handout, notices, summaries of lectures and other details will be placed on Learn.From time to time notices about the course will be sent via email. It is assumed that all members of the class regularly check their email accounts on the UC student system.
Library portalLearn Site
Student Feedback (max. score = 5)20151. This was a well-organized course 4.72. Workload appropriate 4.43. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.54. I received helpful feedback 4.25. The assessments measured my learning 3.920181. This was a well-organized course 4.32. Workload appropriate 4.13. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.14. I received helpful feedback 3.95. The assessments measured my learning 3.920211. This was a well-organized course 42. Workload appropriate 4.33. Effective opportunities for student engagement 4.24. I received helpful feedback 4.25. The assessments measured my learning 4.4The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course. The responses were collated by the course coordinator. Which aspects of the course were the most positive or helpful?• The lecturers• Quizzes• Field trip• Writing reportsHow could this course be changed to assist learning? Action taken in response to feedback.• Make quizzes online. Response: We have done this.• Make quiz time longer than 12 min. Response: We have changed these to 25 min.
Domestic fee $951.00
International fee $4,750.00
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
School of Biological Sciences