Evolutionary Study of Behaviour
Reference CHBIOL00000042
Taught in Major Course List for Master of Biology
Theory (A) 25.0
Exercises (B) 20.0
Training and projects (C) 0.0
Studytime (D) 140.0
Studypoints (E) 5
Credit contract? Access is determined after successful competences assessment
Examination contract? This course can not be taken through an exam contract
Credit contract mandatory if Exam contract? Separate credit contract mandatory
Retake possible? Yes
Teaching Language English
Lecturer Johan Mertens
Department WE11
Key Words

Behavioural ecology, communication, time and energy budgets, dominance, cooperation and conflicts, game theory

Position of the Course

The training college starts from the basic concepts of behavioural ecology, and is as such not connected with previous training courses.

It aims at teaching the basic concepts of behavioural ecology, including the methodologies as used by recent leading research teams.

The competence of the student relates to the final attainment level of the bachelor education


1. Introduction - evolution of behavioural ecology - Tinbergen´s four whys

2. Economic decisions of an individual

- economics of food choice

- trade-off systems (feeding and danger)

- optimality models (optimal foraging)

- costs of migration

3. Predator versus pray

- cryptic behaviour

- evolution of warning coloration

- brood parasitism

- evolutionary arms races

4. Competing for resources

- ideal free distribution

- resource defence

- economics of resource defence (optimal territory size)

5. Evolution of communication

- sensory systems and behaviour

- adaptive signalling

- honest signals

- ritualization during evolution

- chemical signals

6. Fighting and assessment

- evolution of conventional fighting

- resource value and fighting ability

- dominance

7. Game theory and signalling strategies

- evolutionary game theory

- conflict resolution

- mating games

8. Selfishness and altruism

- kin selection and reciprocity

- cooperation and conflicts in breeding groups

9. Coevolution of behavioural aspects

- enemy-victim co evolution

- interspecific altruistic behaviour (multispecies interactions)

Starting Competences

Knowledge of general biology and ecology is recommended. It is accepted that the student has a notion of population biology and general ecology, related to the final attainment level of the tirth bachelor education

Final Competences

To understand the mechanisms which determine the behaviour of an individual, a population, and a species, in contrast to others.

Mastering the elementary knowledge of basics behavioural patterns, contest behaviour, and cooperation in relation to the (variable) environment from an evolutionary point of view.

Acquire the prevailing methodologies as used by recent leading research teams in laboratory settings and environmental conditions.

Teaching and Learning Material

Cost: 10.0 EUR



Datamining in `Web of Science´

Study Coaching

Discussion facilities and questioning via personal contact, phone or email. Interactive support via `Minerva´.

Teaching Methods

Oral colleges and tutorial seminars

Evaluation Methods

Periodical evaluation

Examination Methods

Oral examination with written preparation

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