Module Identifier BS33510  
Academic Year 2001/2002  
Co-ordinator Dr Robert Wootton  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Lecture   15 Hours  
  Practical   6 Hours 6 x 3 hours  
Assessment Project report   To be submitted in 6th week of semester   30%  
  Exam   2 Hours 2 hour theory examination   70%  
  Resit assessment   2 Hours 2 hour theory examination (plus resubmission of failed coursework or an alternative)    

Aims and objectives

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 it evolve and what is its function (adaptive significance). Topics covered include stimulus filtering, "releasers", species typical behaviour ("fixed action patterns"),hormonal influences on behaviour, motivation, the concept of consciousness, 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 modelling 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).

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 comment critically on the basic concepts of the subject.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B.. (1993) An introdcution to behavioural ecology. Blackwell.
Martin, P. Bateson, P.. (1993) Measuring behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
McFarland, D.. (1993) Animal Behaviour-. Longman.
Manning, A. & Stamp Dawkins, M.. (1998) An introdcution to animal behaviour. Cambridge University Press.