Behavioral Ecology (Biology 204-532)

Spring 2007

Instructor: Dr. Peter Dunn

Lecture times: Tues, Thur. 0930-1045 in Lapham 252

Office hours: Tues, Thurs. 1100-1200.


Course topics: This course examines some of the most interesting questions in animal behavior (at least I think so). We use an evolutionary approach to examine why animals behave the way they do. We look at questions such as: why do some animals live in groups and others live alone? why are some species monogamous and others are polygynous? why do some males help raise offspring and others don't?

Textbook: None. Some supplementary reading may be posted on the course website.

Most lecture material will come from Krebs and Davies (1993. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology 3rd Ed. Blackwell Scientific Publishers) and Alcock (2001. Animal Behavior: An evolutionary approach, 7th Ed. Sinauer Assoc.). You can purchase one of those books if you want more background information, but it is not necessary. Exams will be based on lecture material, so you need to attend class.

Lecture Notes: Download lecture notes from the course Desire2Learn site ( The site will have my lecture slides in PDF format. I suggest you print them out and bring them to class so you can write down notes during lecture.

Using Desire2Learn (D2L):

1. Call up your Web browser (e.g., Netscape), and go to the following Web address: Note that there is no "www"
This will bring up the Desire2Learn Welcome screen. You will see a location to enter your Username and Password.

2. Your Username is your Panthermail username (the same username as your campus email), without the "" part. Either hit the Tab key on your keyboard, or use the mouse to click in the box next to Password. Your password is the same as your email password. Once you have typed in your password, then please hit Enter.

3. You should then see a welcome screen. You will see on the screen a list of My Milwaukee Courses: that use Desire2Learn (there will be more than one title if you are registered in more than one course that is using Desire2Learn). The course title is a hot link, so if you click your mouse on the title it will take you directly to the Web course site for Behavioral Ecology (532).

Evaluation: Exams will be based on lecture material, so you need to attend class. If you miss class, please see one of your colleagues for notes. All students will be required to take the three lecture exams. In addition, graduate students will be required to make a 20 min presentation to the class on a topic of interest (chosen after consulting the instructor) and provide a written oultine to the instructor. Grades will be allocated in the following manner:

Undergraduates: exam I 30%, exam II 35%, exam III 35% 

Graduate students: exam I 25%, exam II 25%, exam III 25%, presentation 25%

The exams will be short answer and essay and will be non-cumulative, but will rely and build upon understanding material covered earlier in the semester.

* Students who require note-taking or test-taking accommodations in order to meet any of the requirements of this course, please contact me as soon as possible to make suitable arrangements.

Lecture topics (subject to change). Lectures are Tues & Thurs. 0930-1045 in Lapham 252

 Week  Dates  lecture topic  PDF files
 1 23, 25 Jan   Introduction, Examples of Behav. Research Methods I  Lec01, Lec02
 2 30 Jan,  1 Feb    Major concepts,  No Class  
 3  6, 8 Feb   Decision-making; what to eat, where to live  
 4 13, 15 Feb   Territoriality, Animal Interactions, Game Theory  
 5 20, 22 Feb Displays, Dominance, Exam I (22 Feb)  
 6 27 Feb, 1 Mar  Living in groups, Communication  
 7 6, 8 Mar   , Altruism & Cooperation, Sex & sex ratios  
 8  13, 15 Mar   Sexual Selection,   
 9  20, 22 Mar   Spring Break
 10   27, 29 Mar Mate choice, Mating Systems, Exam II (29 Mar)  
 11  3, 5 Apr Parental Care, Parasitism of Parental Care  
 12  10, 12 Apr Social systems of insects, birds  
 13 24, 26 Apr   Social systems of mammals, primates, Sociobiology  
 14   1, 3 May Graduate Student Presentations, Exam III  
 15   8, 10 May    
    Final exam WEDNESDAY, 16 May  (1000-1200 )