Module Identifier BS34420  
Academic Year 2003/2004  
Co-ordinator Dr Iain Barber  
Semester Semester 2  
Other staff Dr John H R Gee, Dr Robert J Wootton  
Pre-Requisite BS23520  
Course delivery Lecture   30 Hours  
  Seminars / Tutorials   15 Hours 5 x 3 hour workshops  

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students will have covered sufficient material in lectures, tutorials, research seminars and in their recommended reading to enable them to


This module will use a combination of lectures, tutorial sessions and research seminars provided by internal and external speakers to provide students with a critical knowledge of topics in behavioural biology that are of importance in contemporary science. The course will emphasise the growing collaborations between behavioral science and other disciplines, especially genomics and bioinformatics, the ethical issues regarding the use of animals in behavioural studies and the benefits and dangers of extrapolating non-human animal behaviour to that of oursleves. One of the main aims of the course will be to deal with topics frequently (mis)represented in the popular media and to train students in accurately and critically interpreting the results of behavioural studies.


The module will include research topics of current importance in behavioural biology, and thus will remain contemporary. Current planned topics include: The concept of behavioural plasticity and its role in determining species responses to anthropogenic and other disturbance. Ontogeny and the role of the brain in behaviour. The role of behavioural studies in determining the success of habitat restoration and conservation programmes. The role of sub-lethal behavioural effects of pollutants on individual fitness and population stability. Causes and consequences of population and sex differences in behaviour, exemplified by studies examining spatial memory, aggression and territoriality. How and why parasite infections alter host behaviour and the fitness consequences of 'manipulation' by parasites. The evolution of signalling systems, including sexual ornamentation and non-visual signals, and the consequences of ornamentation-based mate choice. Insights into behaviour gained from the incorporation of 'outside' technologies, including DNA fingerprinting, molecular biology, neurobiology and artificial intelligence. How the welfare of animals in domestic / entertainment environments may be realistically improved using knowledge gained from behavioural studies. What behavioural studies can tell us about pain and suffering of animals used by man in research. Examining the extent to which science may feasibly extrapolate from studies of the behaviour of non-human animals to human behaviour. The importance of critically appraising the findings and accurately reporting the results of scientific studies.

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Krebs, J.R. & Davies, N.B. (1997) Behavioural ecology: an evolutionary approach Oxford:Blackwell
Stamp Dawkins, M. (1995) Unravelling animal behaviour Harlow: Longman
Stamp Dawkins, M. (1980) Animal suffering: the science of animal welfare London: Chapman & Hall
Shettleworth, S.J. (1998) Cognition, evolution and behaviour Oxford University Press
Maynard Smith, J. (1982) Evolution and the theory of games Cambridge University Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6