Module Identifier BS34320  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Iain Barber  
Semester Semester 1  
Other staff Dr Robert J Wootton  
Pre-Requisite BS23520  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours  
  Practical   15 Hours 5 x 3 hour practicals to be spent on individual project  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Exam3 Hours 3 hour theory paper  70%
Semester Assessment Project submitted in 6th week of Semester  30%
Supplementary Exam 3 hour theory paper plus re-submission of project if failed   

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will have been presented with sufficient material in the form of lectures, recommended reading and the practical observation of behaviour to enable them to


This module discusses the ecological and evolutionary aspects of animal behaviour with an emphasis on function of behaviour. Emphasis is placed on the critical analysis of the adaptive significance of behaviour, and on the importance of behavioural ecology for the conservation, management and welfare of animals.


The module analyses the adaptive significance of behaviour using cost-benefit, optimality and game-theory models. Topics include habitat selection and the ideal free distribution, introducing the concept of evolutionary stable strategies (ESS). Feeding behaviour is used to introduce optimality models as exemplified by optimal foraging models. Predator-prey interactions illustrate the development of a components model and the use of computer simulations. Social behaviour and territoriality are analysed using both cost-benefit and ESS models. Mate choice and the evolution of secondary sexual characteristics and parental behaviour illustrate the concept of sexual selection and its consequences for individual inclusive fitness. The functional analysis of parental behaviour illustrates the problem of co-operation and conflict between parents, and between parents and offspring, and the examination of host-parasite and mutualistic relationships extends these analyses to inter-specific interactions. The implications of behavioural ecological studies for the husbandry and welfare of domestic and captive animals are introduced, and the necessity to apply knowledge gained from behavioural ecology studies to conservation and biological control programmes discussed. The integration of lectures with guest seminars and 'debriefing sessions' will demonstrate how general principles are currently being applied in empirical research.

Reading Lists

** Essential Reading
Krebs, J.R & Davies, N.B. (1993) An introduction to behavioural ecology 3rd. London: Blackwell
Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1997) Behavioural ecology and evolutionary approach 4th. London: Blackwell


This module is at CQFW Level 6