BIOL383-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023

Behavioural Ecology

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 20 February 2023
End Date: Sunday, 25 June 2023
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 5 March 2023
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 14 May 2023


The development and adaptive significance of behaviour with emphasis on the relationship between ecology and behaviour.

The adaptive significance of behaviour, with an emphasis on the relationships between ecology, evolution and behaviour.  Behavioural ecology is the study of the evolution of behaviour and this course covers both the theoretical basis of behavioural ecology as well as practical skills in studying animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective.

Learning Outcomes

  • As a student in this course, I will develop the ability to:
  • Understand the theoretical basis of animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective and to use this knowledge to propose novel hypotheses to explain the evolution of animal behaviour (Assessment task: final exam; graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA5)
  • Ability of find and evaluate relevant scientific literature through use of library databases and an ability to conceptualise a scientific hypothesis and develop it in depth (Assessment task: grant proposal and independent research project; graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA5)
  • Write and submit a grant application, including a review of the literature on the proposed project, the objectives to be met, and the methods to be used, including an understanding of cultural considerations in the development of a project (Assessment task: grant proposal; graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5)
  • Conduct a study of animal behaviour from the initial concept stage, through to the planning and development of a research project, the collection and analysis of data, and the presentation of the results of the study to a scientific audience (Assessment task: oral presentation and poster presentation of independent research project; graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5)

    Transferable Skills / Pūkenga Ngaio
    As a student in this course, I will develop the following skills:
  • The preparation of a grant proposal (Obtaining funding is a requirement in all fields of science, including behavioural ecology. In this course you will learn how to prepare a grant application in which you will request funding for a novel research project. This will involve developing skills in formulating clear objectives, preparing a concise review of the literature to support the proposal, and a detailed summary of the methods you plan to use to complete the proposed study, taking into account cultural implications of your proposed work)
    Related graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA3, GA5
  • Designing and completing a novel research project in animal behaviour (Students will have the opportunity to conduct a novel research project. This will involve proposing a project, detailing the project in a proposal, carrying out the collection of the data, and then the analysis and presentation of the results of the project)
    Related graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA5
  • Preparing and giving an oral presentation of the results of their research project (Effective communication is vital to the career of a scientist; every scientist needs to be able to communicate their findings to the rest of the scientific community and the general public, through oral and written skills. You will be required to present the results of your project to the class in the form of a short oral presentation).
    Related graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA5
  • Preparing and presenting a poster that they could give at a scientific conference (The presentation of scientific results at a conference is one of the ways that scientists communicate their findings. Usually both oral presentations and poster presentations are given at conferences.  The last assignment in the lab is for students to prepare a poster of their research project and present this at a formal poster presentation session to be held on campus and open to the public).
    Related graduate attributes: GA1, GA2, GA5




Timetable Note

Assessments during term time will include the submission of a grant application, and two presentations based on an independent research project.  The grant application will require the student to propose and justify a novel research project, including a review of the background literature, objectives of proposed project, and proposed methods.  The independent research project requires the student to undertake a novel research project and report on the results of the project, both as an oral presentation and as a poster.  The oral presentation is given during the last week of term 1 (during lab time), while the poster is presented near the end of term 2. Note that to pass the course, all assignments must be completed.  See below if you are sick and cannot complete an assignment by the due date.  Note that the School has minimum grades that must be achieved in both the “in term” assessments and the final exam in order to pass the course (see rules and regulations below).  For this course, the “in term” work comprises the grant application, the oral presentation and the poster presentation. You must complete all of these assignments and obtain at least 40% to pass the course.  A student must also obtain at least 40% on the final exam, and 50% overall, to pass the course.

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Jim Briskie


Ximena Nelson


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Final Exam 50% TBA
Oral presentation of project 10% Due Week 6 (term 1)
Grant application 05 May 2023 20%
Poster presentation of project 30 May 2023 20%

Textbooks / Resources

Recommended Reading

Goodenough, Judith. , McGuire, Betty., Jakob, Elizabeth M; Perspectives on animal behavior ; 3rd ed; J. Wiley & Sons, 2010.

Rubenstein, D.R. & Alcock, J; Animal Behavior ; 11th; Sinauer.

There are a large number of textbooks in Animal Behaviour written over the last decade and all are useful sources of additional and background reading. Copies of most of these are available in the library. A couple of useful textbooks are listed above.
Note that additional readings from the scientific literature, which will be placed on Learn, will be
required as further background reading.

Course links

Course Outline

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $951.00

International fee $4,750.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 10 people apply to enrol.

For further information see School of Biological Sciences .

All BIOL383 Occurrences

  • BIOL383-23S1 (C) Semester One 2023