BHE-30306 Behavioural Ecology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Individual Paper2
Independent study0
Course coordinator(s)SA Kingma
Lecturer(s)prof. dr. M Dicke
dr. A (Alexander) Kotrschal
dr. CHJ van Oers
SA Kingma
prof. dr. M Naguib
FC Ribeiro da Cunha
dr. A Kotrschal
KL Bebbington
Examiner(s)prof. dr. M Naguib
prof. dr. M Dicke

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

BHE-20303 Animal Behaviour


The course Behavioural Ecology provides insight into how evolution through natural selection shapes behaviour of animals (domestic or wild, vertebrate or invertebrate). The course includes acquiring theoretical knowledge, searching scientific information, critical reading of literature, observation and presentation of results. The acquired knowledge is directly applied in a short research project on captive or wild animals - depending on the opportunities; these can be either invertebrates or vertebrates.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- use evolutionary concepts to explain animal behaviour;
- define and apply the four questions of Tinbergen in behavioural issues;
- apply the basic behavioural and ecological skills of observation and (statistical) data analysis;
- plan and finalize a small behavioural ecological research project;
- present the results of a research project in a report.


The course is a full-time block course of 4 weeks. The first two weeks are centred on theoretical issues. For lectures the book 'An introduction to behavioural ecology' by Davies et al. is used. In the lectures the theoretical background of the relation between animal behaviour and natural selection is given.
During the 3th and 4th week students work in small teams on a mini-research project. In the first week, students can select a topic for this project. You will develop a research question and integrate it with theory you got acquainted with in the first two weeks and finalise your working plan using scientific information from the scientific literature (literature study). Through discussions with the supervisor(s) your research plan will be finalized in week 2. Experiments will be executed subsequently, and you will learn to analyse your data, a report is made and the results are presented.


Evaluation will be based on a written examination and report.


N.B. Davies, J.R Krebs, S.A. West (2012). An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology 4th Edition.

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScB: Organismal Adaptation and Development6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMScF: Animal Ecology6WD
Restricted Optional for: WUEBCBSc Minor Ecology and Biological Control of Insects6WD