BIOL383-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Behavioural Ecology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


The development and adaptive significance of behaviour with emphasis on the relationship between ecology and behaviour.

The adaptive significance of behaviour, with an emphasis on the relationships between ecology, evolution and behaviour.  Behavioural ecology is the study of the evolution of behaviour and this course covers both the theoretical basis of behavioural ecology as well as practical skills in studying animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Understand the theoretical basis of animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective and to use this knowledge to propose novel hypotheses to explain the evolution of animal behaviour (assessment task: final exam)
  • Ability of find and evaluate relevant scientific literature through use of library databases and an ability to conceptualise a scientific hypothesis and develop it in depth (assessment task: grant proposal and independent research project)
  • Write and submit a grant application, including a review of the literature on the proposed project, the objectives to be met, and the methods to be used (assessment task: grant proposal)
  • Conduct a study of animal behaviour from the initial concept stage, through to the planning and development of a research project, the collection and analysis of data, and the presentation of the results of the study to a scientific audience (assessment task: oral presentation and poster presentation of independent research project)

    Transferable Skills Register
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • The preparation of a grant proposal (Obtaining funding is a requirement in all fields of science, including behavioural ecology. In this course you will learn how to prepare a grant application in which you will request funding for a novel research project. This will involve developing skills in formulating clear objectives, preparing a concise review of the literature to support the proposal, and a detailed summary of the methods you plan to use to complete the proposed study)
  • Designing and completing a novel research project in animal behaviour (Students will have the opportunity to conduct a novel research project. This will involve proposing a project, detailing the project in a proposal, carrying out the collection of the data, and then the analysis and presentation of the results of the project)
  • Preparing and giving an oral presentation of the results of their research project (Effective communication is vital to the career of a scientist; every scientist needs to be able to communicate their findings to the rest of the scientific community and the general public, through oral and written skills. You will be required to present the results of your project to the class in the form of a short oral presentation).
  • Preparing and presenting a poster that they could give at a scientific conference (The presentation of scientific results at a conference is one of the ways that scientists communicate their findings.  Usually both oral presentations and poster presentations are given at conferences.  The last assignment in the lab is for students to prepare a poster of their research project and present this at a formal poster presentation session to be held on campus and open to the public).




Timetable Note

Feedback from 2016 Course Survey (scores out of 5)

The following issues were raised in written feedback by students at the end of the course in 2016. The responses were collated by the course coordinator and common responses scored. Action taken in response to feedback is indicated in brackets.

Q1 - The materials provided helped me to understand what was required to succeed in this course: 4.52
Q2 - The organisation of this course helped me learn: 4.52
Q3 - I found the workload was appropriate to the level of the course: 4.38
Q4 - I found the assessments appropriate for the course: 4.33
Q5 - Where I sought feedback on my assessments, I found it helpful: 4.48

Helpful features of the course
• All of the assignment based activities (the oral and poster presentations and the grant proposal) were really great 'real life' activities to do that should be really helpful later on in our studies.
• I thoroughly enjoyed the group research and the poster making and presenting.
• Both Jim and Ximena were always available to answer questions and this was always prompt and informative.

What to change? (Action/response indicated in brackets)
• A midcourse test will help lessen the load for the final exam. [The aim in the final exam is that of summative assessment where we want to determine how much you have learned in the totality of the course, as opposed to simply ‘forgetting’ the previous module. All assessments taken together should help in this form of learning of the subject area.]

Course Coordinator

For further information see School of Biological Sciences Head of Department


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Final Exam 50%
Oral presentation of project 10%
Grant application 08 May 2020 20%
Poster presentation of project 25 May 2020 20%

Textbooks / Resources

Note that additional readings from the scientific literature, which will be placed on Learn, will be
required as further background reading.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $900.00

International fee $4,250.00

* 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.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL383 Occurrences

  • BIOL383-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020