BIOL 3101
Animal Behaviour

3.0 Credits


This course provides a basic introduction to the study of behaviour. Students concentrate on the evolution of behaviour by natural selection, and briefly consider behavioural genetics, development, and mechanistic aspects. The major topics considered include feeding, habitat choice, antipredator behaviour, parental care and reproductive tactics, mating systems, social behaviour, and human behaviour. Students develop a basic understanding of the evolution and adaptation of behaviour.

Delivery Method



BIOL 1113-Principles of Biology I

BIOL 1115-Biology Laboratory I

BIOL 1213-Principles of Biology II

BIOL 1215-Biology Laboratory II

BIOL 3021-Community And Ecosystem Ecology


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Distinguish between the three types of questions that may be asked about animal behaviour, and formulate hypotheses of each type to explain a given behaviour.
  • Distinguish between individual and group selection explanations for the evolution of behaviour, and explain why the latter is incorrect.
  • Explain the principles involved in the historical evolution of any behaviour.
  • Understand some of the mechanisms involved in the production of a behavioural sequence by an animal.
  • Understand the role of natural selection in the evolution of behaviour.
  • Discuss the evolution of human behaviour.
  • Outline the formulation of hypotheses about behaviour, the procedures used to test them, and the types of data that can be collected

Course Outline

Unit 1: An Evolutionary Approach to Behaviour

Unit 2: The Behaviour Machine: Proximate and Ultimate Causes

Unit 3: Acquiring Resources

Unit 4: Anti-Predator Behaviour

Unit 5: Partners and Parents

Unit 6: Social Behaviour

Maximum Completion

30 weeks.

Required Text and Materials

Alcock, J. Animal Behaviour: An Evolutionary Approach. 10th ed. Sinauer Associates, Inc, 2013.
Type: Textbook: ISBN: 978-0-87893-966-4 / 0-87893-966-0

Additional Requirements

Computer with Internet is required.

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Primary communication is through the Learning Environment's "Mail" tool or by phone. Students will receive the necessary contact information at start of course.


In order to complete this course successfully, students must complete the coursework as shown in the following table, obtaining at least 50% on the mandatory final examination and 50% overall.

Assignment 1 10%
Assignment 2 10%
Assignment 3 10%
Assignment 4 30%
Final Exam * 40%
Total 100%

* Mandatory