YBE-30306 Behavioural Ecology


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Practical extensively supervised26
Practical intensively supervised42
Project learning5
Problem-based learning8
Course coordinator(s)prof. dr. ir. B Kemp
Lecturer(s)dr. ir. B Beerda
RHJM Kurvers
dr. ir. MR Jonker
MSc KM Hoedjes
prof. dr. RC Ydenberg
prof. dr. M Dicke
Examiner(s)prof. dr. M Dicke
prof. dr. ir. B Kemp
prof. dr. HHT Prins

Language of instruction:


Assumed knowledge on:

ETH-20306 Behaviour and endocrinology


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

Learning outcomes:

After following this course, the student:
- uses evolutionary concepts to explain animal behaviour;
- understands and is able to apply and define the four why's of tinbergen in behavioural issues;
- is able to apply the basic behavioural and ecological skills of observation and (statistical) data analysis;
- is able to plan and finalize a small behavioural ecological research project;
- is able to present the results of a research project in a report and oral presentation.


The course is a full-time block course of 4 weeks. The first week is centred on theoretical issues. In the lectures the theoretical background of the relation between animal behaviour and natural selection is given. During the whole four week period students work in teams of two or three 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 week 1 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 1, and your work plan and literature study will be presented to your fellow students. Experiments will be executed subsequently, and you will learn to analyse your data (some lectures are given for instruction for the analysis), a report is made and the results are presented.


Evaluation will be based on a written examination, presentation and report.


J.R. Krebs and N.B. Davies, Introduction to Behavioural Ecology.

Restricted Optional for: MBIBiologyMScC: Animal Biology6WD
MBIBiologyMScD: Ecology6WD
MASAnimal SciencesMScD: Animal Health and Behaviour6WD