• Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Biology
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Naomi Langmore
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

The aim of evolutionary and behavioural ecology is to understand how an animal is adapted to its environment, such as how an animal’s behaviour contributes to its survival or reproduction. In this course we consider the outcomes of natural selection on animal behaviour and function, and discuss how we test adaptive hypotheses. We will do this by focussing on key issues in behavioural ecology. Our lectures are organised into four modules: trade-offs between costs and benefits for survival and reproduction, the principles of animal communication, the evolution of cooperation, and the biology of sex. We consider such questions as: How do individuals balance the need to get food yet avoid predators? How are communication signals designed and what do they mean? What stops animals lying? Why is cooperation potentially beneficial yet its evolution is difficult to understand? When is it advantageous to produce sons versus daughters? Why are individuals choosy when selecting a mate? Why do males care for young in some species but not others?  These areas cover research topics of interest to the strong behavioural ecology group at ANU, and we will include our current research as well as that carried out worldwide. The overall aim of the course is to develop a logical approach that can be applied to understanding and testing any question in evolutionary biology.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

The aim of the course is to develop a logical approach that can be applied to thinking about the process of adaptation. Although our focus will be on behavioural ecology, we will develop a logical approach that can be applied to understanding any question in evolutionary biology. The generic skills we expect you to obtain in this course are the abilities to:

  1. recognise when behaviour poses difficulties for accepted wisdom and theory
  2. think strategically on how to formulate and test adaptive hypotheses
  3. communicate problems and their solutions to both an intelligent public and a community of informed scientists
  4. read the literature critically to assimilate views on new findings and present these views in writing.

Other Information

BIOL3132 (Field Studies in Behavioural Ecology) recommended for practical experience of research.

Indicative Assessment

    Assessment will be based on:

    • Literature review and other written exercises (50%; LO 1-4)
    • Final examination (50%; LO 1-3)

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      2-3 hours of lectures per week plus 3-hour tutorial sessions approximately each second week.

      Requisite and Incompatibility

      To enrol in this course you must have successfully completed BIOL1003 and 18 units of 2000 or 3000 level BIOL courses or with the permission of the course convener. Incompatible with BIOL6631.

      Prescribed Texts

      Davies, N.B., Krebs, J.R. & West, S.A. 2012 An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology 4th Edition. Wiley-Blackwell

      Assumed Knowledge

      You are expected to have general knowledge of evolutionary processes.





      Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

      If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

      Student Contribution Band:
      Unit value:
      6 units

      If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

      Units EFTSL
      6.00 0.12500
      Domestic fee paying students
      Year Fee
      2018 $3660
      International fee paying students
      Year Fee
      2018 $5160
      Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

      Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

      ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

      The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
      Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

      First Semester

      Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
      2649 19 Feb 2018 27 Feb 2018 31 Mar 2018 25 May 2018 In Person N/A

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