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Behavioral Ecology, ZOO 4415/5415,
Fall 2011, 3 credits
Undergraduates: ZOO 4415, CRN 14703, Section 01
Graduate students: ZOO 5415, CRN 14704, Section 01
Prerequisites: ZOO 3400 (Ecology) or ZOO 3600 (Animal Behavior) or permission from Dr. McDonald
Meeting time: MWF 10:00-10:50 Location: Berry Center 138
Unlike some of my other courses, I am working mostly from WyoWeb course resources for this course. Lectures (Powerpoints) will be posted on the WyoWeb site, along with readings and other resources. This site is mostly designed to be a pointer to those resources.
How to gain access to required readings and other files
List of potential course topics
Download syllabus (2011 syllabus)
Goals: Why do animals behave in such a diversity of ways as they seek food, shelter or mates? We will study the ecological factors, such as resource distribution or predation risk, that underlie behaviors as diverse as foraging, finding mates or herding. We will study the ways in which patterns of behavior can shape the ecology of animals, the ways that they use the environment and how they shape the biotic environment for other species. We will use comparative approaches to understand both pattern and process in behavior across a wide range of animal taxa. We will use cost/benefit approaches that quantify the genetic/fitness payoffs to behavioral patterns, as well as non-adaptive alternatives such as phylogenetic constraints. We will study examples of behavioral ecological patterns from current and past field and laboratory studies and examine the theoretical principles and experimental approaches that are useful in analyzing them. We will examine processes from the level of tissues (e.g., the structural basis of colors used as signals) to ecosystems (e.g., how herding and migratory behavior can shape the dynamics of African savannas). The course will emphasize the integration of evolutionary and ecological forces that shape and are shaped by the amazing diversity of behavioral strategies of animals ranging from invertebrates, fish, and amphibians to reptiles, birds and mammals.
Dr. David McDonald BioSciences 413 firstname.lastname@example.org 766-3012
Office hours T, W 11:00-12:00, Th 1:30-2:30, or by appointment Dave McDonald's web page
Final exam: Week of 5 to 9 December 2011 in Berry Center 138
Two male Long-tailed Manakins (alpha and beta partners) doing a cartwheel dance display for females. A central question in my research has been to explore why unrelated males engage in this virtually unique form of cooperative courtship display. Publications available from my website-link above.
Tentative list of topics (this list differs from the one I put in the syllabus, but I decided to leave it here):
- Seeing is hard work: what you see is what you notice ...
- The foundations of behavioral ecology: Tinbergen's four questions -- mechanism, selective advantage, ontogeny and phylogeny. Cost/benefit analyses, the “genetic accounting” of W.D. Hamilton’s theory of kin selection, the ecological basis of social systems (Crook; Orians; Emlen & Oring), E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology.
- Kin selection and inclusive fitness
a) Eusocial insects, haplodiploidy, naked mole rats
b) Inclusive fitness benefits in other contexts
c) Kin recognition systems
- Comparative approaches:
a) Phylogenetic constraints vs. rapid adaptation to ecological conditions
b) Phylogenetically independent contrasts
c) Character mapping
d) Heterochrony: baby-face, brains and bonobos
- Optimality approaches
a) Optimal foraging; marginal value theorem
b) Habitat selection
c) Tradeoffs and bet-hedging
- Competing for resources
a) Ideal free distribution and the economics of resource defense
b) Game theory: the wear of attrition and the concept of an ESS
- Predator-prey interactions (emphasizing fitness payoffs rather than population dynamics)
a) Crypticity, aposematism and mimicry
b) Predator-prey arms races and the Red Queen hypothesis
c) Brood parasites and their hosts
- Signaling systems
a) Receptors and receivers (UV, other sensory modalities)
b) Honest vs. deceptive signals -- why the motmot wags its tail
c) Status signaling -- how the sparrow got its spots
- Living in groups
a) Flocking, herding: costs and benefits
b) Optimal group size
c) Queuing in manakins and hyenas
- Sexual selection and mate choice
a) Anisogamy and Bateman’s principle
b) Competition for mates
c) Good genes vs. runaway sexual selection
d) Evolution of ornaments, condition-dependent traits, sensory bias
e) Sex ratio variations
- Parental care
a) The temptation to desert; mating opportunity costs
b) Uniparental and biparental care
c) Taxonomic patterns of parental care
d) Sexual conflict -- from genes on up
- Mating systems
a) Monogamy, polygyny and polyandry
b) Extra-pair fertilizations (EPF, EPC, EPP)
c) Sperm competition
d) Non-resource-based mating systems: leks as a default strategy
e) Alternative mating strategies -- best of a bad lot vs. balanced payoffs
- Cooperation and communal breeding
a) Reciprocity: game theory (tit-for-tat) and other approaches
b) Mutualism -- gimme shelter
c) Communal breeding: direct or indirect benefits? Helping can be selfish (scrub-wrens and meerkats)
d) Social network models -- how the alpha male got his spot
- "Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution"
a) Tinbergen's four questions revisited
b) Behavioral syndromes -- shy bird, bold bird, red fish, blue fish, big herd, small herd
c) Adaptive vs. nonadaptive explanations -- did the spandrels of San Marco develop just so the hyena could have a pseudopenis?
d) How come? Infanticide, cannibalism and other paradoxes
- Conservation and behavioral ecology
a) Good intentions, bad results --
Kakapos -- good food, bad sex. Wood Ducks -- don't put all your eggs in one basket
b) Ecological traps -- plowed fields and Mountain Plovers
c) Endocrine disruptors -- Lola the boy (?) alligator
- Human behavioral ecology
a) MHC and mate choice
b) Evolutionary psychology; color preferences; spatial ability
d) E.O. Wilson’s Sociobiology revisited
Suggested text (not required):
Krebs JR, and N.B. Davies. 1993. An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology (3rd edn.). Blackwell Science, Oxford. (or any edition back to the 1981 1st edition will work fine)
Finding required readings:
You can download various required readings (in PDF or Microsoft Word.doc format) and other files by going to WyoWeb.
1) Go to the WyoWeb page (by going to the UW home page and clicking the WyoWeb link)
2) Log in (your campus username and password)
3) Click the "Student" tab near the top of the page
4) Near the upper left of the resulting window you should see a box that says "My Courses."
Click on the blue words "For Fall 2011 courses, click here"
5) In the next page, the biggest area should be labeled "Courses I'm taking"
6) Hit the "Behavioral Ecology" link
7) On the Behavioral Ecology page, the box near the upper left will have a link called "Files." Click that.
8) That will bring up a window that has a list of readings
9) Click the file links to download them.
Required readings are listed by the first author's last name and the ".pdf" extension. In some cases, I may also place a short descriptive phrase after the author's name.
Other downloads (to be developed)
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