Behavioural Ecology - LIFE95004
Behavioural Ecology is an evolutionary approach to the study of animal behaviour; the rationale being that behaviour evolves through natural selection to increase fitness within given ecological, social and historical constraints. The course aims to give an understanding of behaviour using a theoretical framework to study the interaction between behaviour, ecology and evolution. Through the lectures, theoretical concepts (such as optimality models, game theory and comparative methods) will be applied to key areas of animal behaviour such as foraging, communication, where to live/dispersal/migration, fighting/competition, reproductive behaviour (including sexual selection, sexual conflict, alternative mating behaviour), parental care and social behaviour. The lectures on the ultimate causes of behaviour will be supplemented with those investigating the proximate causes of behaviour. The lectures will be complemented by an emphasis on practical work and experimentation. Students will be taught experimental design in animal behaviour and how to quantify and analyse behaviour using jWatcher software. Practicals using insects, birds and fish will be used to investigate grouping, vigilance, fighting, communication, and reproductive behaviour and a trip to London Zoo will introduce students to the study of primate behaviour. Finally, students will be given the opportunity to conduct a mini-project using crickets or fish.