Behavioural Biology

Course Code :1001WETGED
Study domain:Biology
Academic year:2019-2020
Semester:1st semester
Contact hours:45
Study load (hours):140
Contract restrictions: Exam contract not possible
Language of instruction:Dutch
Exam period:exam in the 1st semester
Lecturer(s)Marcel Eens

3. Course contents *

In this course, the scientific study of animal behaviour is approached from four different viewpoints.  

  • Causation: what are the stimuli that elicit the response, and how has it been modified by recent learning?
  • Development: how does the behavior change with age, and what early experiences are necessary for the behavior to be shown?
  • Function: how does the behavior impact on the animal's chances of survival and reproduction?
  • Evolutionary history: how does the behavior compare with similar behavior in related species, and how might it have arisen through the process of phylogeny?    

    These four levels of analysis can be condensed into two: (1) those that deal with the proximate or immediate causes of behaviour, which are linked to the operation of internal developmental and physiological systems, and (2) those that have to do with the ultimate or long-term evolutionary causes of behaviour, which are linked to questions of adaptive value and historical modification.

    We will focus on both proximate and ultimate aspects of behaviour as well as their interrelationships. We will focus also in particular on learning behaviour, the nature-nurture debate, social and eusocial behaviour, communication, sexual selection, mating systems, defensive behaviour, animal welfare, and human behaviour. Interrelationships with other scientific disciplines such as psychology and behavioural neurosciences are approached and discussed in detail.