Module Identifier BS23520  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Robert J Wootton  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Lecture   30 x 1h lectures  
  Practical   15 Hours. 5 x 3 hours to be spent on individual project  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours Theory examination  70%
Semester Assessment Individual project To be submitted 6th week of semester  30%

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module students will be able to
- use the primary literature to expand their interest in animal behaviour
- be able to describe, with suitable examples, the basic concepts of the subject as outlined above
.   provide objective, qualitative and quantitative descriptions of animal behaviour.


The module introduces the basic principles of animal behaviour (ethology), by considering Tinbergen's four questions. The importance of adopting an objective approach to the description and interpretation of behaviour is emphasised.


The module discusses the basic principles of ethology under four headings: causation of behaviour, development (ontogeny) of behaviour, evolution of behaviour and function of behaviour, i.e. Tinbergen's four questions: what causes behaviour, how does it develop during ontogeny, how did itevolve and what is its function (adaptive significance). Topics covered include stimulus filtering, "releasers", species typical behaviour ("fixed action patterns"), models of motivation, effect of hormones on behaviour, genotypic influences on behaviour, learning, ritualization, phylogeny of behaviour, the use of game theory and cost-benefit analysis in behavioural ecology. Methods of describing behaviour are also discussed. In the discussion of the function of behaviour, more emphasis is placed on methods of modeling behaviour. Topics are drawn from habitat selection, ideal free distribution, foraging and the use of optimal foraging models, social behaviour, territoriality, mating and parental behaviour. The relevant text is Krebs & Davies (1993).

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Barnard, C. (2004) Animal Behaviour: Mechanism, Development, Function, Evolution. Pearson, LOndon
Martin, P. & Bateson, P. (1993) Measuring behaviour Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
** Supplementary Text
Alcock, J. (2001) Animal behaviour Sinauer, Sunderland. Mass
Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1993) An introduction to behavioural ecology Blackwell
Manning, A. & Stamp Dawkins, M. (1998) An introduction to Animal Behaviour Cambridge; Cambridge University Press.
Mcfarland, D. (1999) Animal Behaviour Longman
Scott, G. (2005) Essential Animal Behaviour. Blackwell, Oxford


This module is at CQFW Level 5