APS 209 Animal Behaviour

Level 2
Semester 2B
Credits 10
Pre/Co Requisites -
Recommended Requisites APS 121 Evolution, APS 126 Behaviour of Humans and Other Animals
Teaching Staff Professor Ben Hatchwell, Dr Fiona Hunter
Co-ordinator Dr Fiona Hunter


This course will:
• discuss both the adaptive significance (“why”) and underlying mechanisms (“how”) of animal behaviour, and show that these are complementary.
• show how observations of behaviour in the laboratory and in the field are used to generate hypotheses and how observations, quantitative models, experimental manipulation and comparative studies are used to test these hypotheses.
• introduce theoretical concepts and simple uses of mathematics in the study of animal behaviour.
• provide an introduction to the scientific literature through short research papers relevant to particular lectures in which additional background material is supplied so that students can more easily understand the rationale, methods, statistical analyses, and conclusions of the papers.


The course will provide an introduction to animal behaviour through lectures, SCLEs and the course textbook. The main focus will be on answering questions in animal behaviour through testing hypotheses about the adaptive significance (“why”) and mechanism (“how”) of particular behaviours. More specific focus will be made on feeding, reproductive behaviour, eusociality and communication.  The course will also introduce the use of game theory and optimisation modelling. This will require simple mathematics, and the analysis of simple figures and tables showing the costs and benefits of particular behaviours. There will be an SCLE which will involve special readings in animal behaviour.

DELIVERY METHOD: 14 lectures


ASSESSMENT METHOD: An exam comprising 25 Multiple Choice questions based on the lecture material and one essay question based on the SCLE.

FEEDBACK: Students can receive feedback on performance in examinations by arranging a meeting with their personal tutor at the start of the following Semester

Please go to MOLE for more information on APS209

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