- Code BIOL3131
- Unit Value 6 units
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.
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:
- recognise when behaviour poses difficulties for accepted wisdom and theory
- think strategically on how to formulate and test adaptive hypotheses
- communicate problems and their solutions to both an intelligent public and a community of informed scientists
- read the literature critically to assimilate views on new findings and present these views in writing.
BIOL3132 (Field Studies in Behavioural Ecology) recommended for practical experience of research.
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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Workload2-3 hours of lectures per week plus 3-hour workshop sessions approximately each second week.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Davies, N.B., Krebs, J.R. & West, S.A. 2012 An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology 4th Edition. Wiley-Blackwell
You are expected to have general knowledge of evolutionary processes.
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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