ECOL 496V/596V:

course description
Optional and required readings for this course (pic: (c) NEFSC Photo Archives)
Course syllabus (pdf file)
another course taught by me: ECOL597S
another graduate course taught by me: ECOL467/567
another graduate course taught by me: ECOL596H
Course list for the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
all EEB courses
back to Anna's teaching
Soc. Ins. Lab

This course was taught in Spring 2007.
It will be on offer again, but possibly not until Fall 2011 or later.
If you are a student interested in the course, drop me an email, so I can judge how many people would like to take it.

Do animals forage optimally? Why do some but not others live in groups? Is the mind composed of modules for different functions? How did language evolve? This course will focus on current topics in behavioral ecology and animal cognition research, and bring together methods and concepts used in these two approaches. Lectures will alternate with discussion sections and student presentations on classic and recent studies.

The course requires no end-of-term paper etc.; the main things you will have to do are presentations in class and reading the textbooks (which are easy and enjoyable to read; and note that it is not required to read the whole book, although I recommend it).

Instructor: Anna Dornhaus
- I'm a biologist with a special interest in collective behavior and cognition (esp. 'collective intelligence'). I work with social insects, particularly bumble bees, honey bees, and ants.
check out my lab webpage, department webpage, or personal webpage
Feel free to contact me with questions about the course or if you are interested in working in my lab:
Course plan for Spring 2007

Date Topic Presenter Reading
Jan 11 Historical perspective on the study of behavior; what questions can be asked about behavior Dornhaus  
Jan 16 Overview of the approaches to studying behavior
(Admin: assigning topics & dates for presentations, also tipps for presentations)
Dornhaus Krebs & Davies chapter 1 (pp1-23) & 2 (pp24-47)
Jan 18 Methods: comparative studies, experiments, and modelling; advantages and problems Dornhaus  
Jan 23 (Optimal?) foraging, economics and (biological) markets Dornhaus Krebs & Davies chapter 3 (pp48-76)
Jan 25 Predation and parasitism Ming Huang Krebs & Davies chapter 4 (pp77-101)
Jan 30 Brief overview of neurobiology Dornhaus Papers: Mery&Kawecki, Dunbar, Chittka et al.
Feb 1 How can genetics help us understand behavior? Can it? Tuan Cao Papers: Pinker, Robinson
Feb 6 'Games' ?! Interactions and strategies of behavior Dornhaus Krebs & Davies chapter 7 (pp147-174); paper: Nowak&Sigmund
Feb 8 Do animals have personalities? (Behavioral syndromes?) Jenny Jandt Paper: Sih et al.
Feb 13 Evolution of cooperation Dornhaus Krebs & Davies chapter 11 (pp265-290); paper: Linksvayer&Wade
Feb 15 Is there ever 'altruism'? Laura Stein Krebs & Davies chapter 12 (pp291-317) or chapter 13 (pp318-348)
Feb 20 Communication: mind reading and manipulation? Dornhaus Krebs & Davies chapter 14 (pp349-375); paper: Krebs & Dawkins
Feb 22 Living in groups and what is 'Sociobiology'? William Fitz Krebs & Davies chapter 6 (pp120-146)
Feb 27 Human behavioral ecology? Dornhaus Papers: Aiello&Dunbar, Fehr&Fischbacher, Bird et al.
Mar 1 What are the interesting questions in behavioral ecology today? Discussion Krebs & Davies chapter 15 (pp375-386); papers: Read&Clark 1, Read&Clark 2, Owens
Mar 6 What is cognition and how is it studied? Dornhaus Shettleworth chapter 1 (pp1-48)
Mar 8 Perception Dornhaus Shettleworth chapter 2 (pp49-94)
Mar 20 Attention - what it is and its implications Discussion Papers: Dukas, Spaethe et al.
Mar 22 Learning & Memory Dornhaus Paper Menzel & Giurfa OR Cheng OR Shettleworth chapter 3, 4 or 6
Mar 27 What is learning good for? Evolution of learning Erica Sontz Papers: Brown & Braithwaite, Clayton & Krebs
Mar 29 Orientation & Navigation Dornhaus Shettleworth chapter 7 (pp279-332) and Menzel et al.
Apr 3 Problem-solving: counting, measuring, computing Keith Fligg Paper: Gallistel & Gelman; optional: Shettleworth chapter 8 (pp333-378)
Apr 5 Do animals have abstract concepts? Does it matter? (And what does Alex the parrot tell us?) Dornhaus & Discussion Paper: Pepperberg; optional: Shettleworth chapter 5 (pp185-232)
Apr 10 Social learning & teaching Dornhaus Papers: Zentall, Chittka & Leadbeater, optional: Leadbeater et al. on teaching
Apr 12 Theory of mind, social learning, and what does it all mean? Shea Cogswell optional: Shettleworth chapter 10 (pp425-474)
Apr 17 Communication & Language: is language necessary to think? Michele Lanan Paper: Ackers & Slobodchikoff, optional: Shettleworth chapter 12 (pp523-565)
Apr 19 Tool use Dornhaus & Discussion Paper: Huber & Gajdon
Apr 24 Intentionality, making decisions, and planning for the future Dornhaus Papers: Schuck-Paim et al., Raby et al.
Apr 26 Consciousness and self-awareness, or: What is intelligence and are humans unique? Discussion Papers: Griffin & Speck, Plotnik et al., optional: Shettleworth chapter 11 (pp475-522)
May 1 Conclusions: what have we learned? Discussion Shettleworth chapter 13 (pp566-576)

All Who's who slides that were presented in Spring 2007.
Who's who talks: everybody will give 5 very short (max 5 min) talks on 5 interesting people who study behavior (I suggest 1 slide).
You can find suggestions in the slides for the Jan 16th lecture. You have to pick people that noone else is already talking about. Don't pick anyone who is currently at the U of A.
Please remember that you cannot do more than one who's who per lecture.