BHE-30306 Behavioural Ecology


Credits 6.00

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

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, perform, and finalize a small behavioural ecological research project;
- present the results of a research project in a scientific report and oral presentation


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 explained, and examples of Behavioural Ecology research are discussed.
During the 3th and 4th week students work in pairs or small teams on a mini-research project. In the first weeks, students can select a topic for this project. Students will develop a research question and integrate it with theory they got acquainted with in the first two weeks and finalise the working plan using scientific information from the scientific literature (literature study). Through discussions with the supervisor(s) the research plan will be finalized in week 2. Experiments will be executed subsequently, and students will learn to analyse the 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: MBIBiologyMScD: Spec. D - Ecology6WD
MBIBiologyMScB: Spec. B - Development and Adaptation6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMScF: Spec. F - Animal Ecology6WD
Restricted Optional for: WUEBCBSc Minor Ecology and Biological Control of Insects6WD