BIO3052 - Animal Behaviour

General Unit Information

Seagulls Meercat

We study animal behaviour for several reasons; because we are curious about the species with which we share the planet, because it can give insights into our own behaviour and because it has applied relevance in conservation, animal production and animal welfare.

This unit deals with four key areas of animal behaviour. Firstly, we investigate animal communication systems, with particular emphasis on how signals are produced, transmitted and received, their information content and how they are sometimes used in social manipulation. Secondly, we explore the way in which behaviour develops during the animal's early life and the various influences that shape this development. The third area focuses on mechanisms, with emphasis on the genetic and neural bases of behaviour. Finally, we turn to behavioural ecology that deals with the role of behaviour in the animal's interactions with its environment and the ways in which the environment shapes adaptive behaviour on an evolutionary time scale. Topics explored in this final area include reproduction, parental care, foraging, anti-predator behaviour, and sociality.

Practical work comprises small research projects carried out in groups over several weeks. You will learn how to design, carry out, analyse, talk about and write up such a project. The variety of animals studied includes marine worms, crustaceans, insects, fish and birds. The types of behaviour studied may include foraging, space use, aggression, communication and many others.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the mechanisms underlying animal behaviour;
  2. Explain how behaviour develops and why it is adaptive;
  3. Evaluate the ways in which the environment shapes adaptive behaviour;
  4. Design, conduct and analyse the results of an extended research project;
  5. Communicate findings to a scientific and a general audience in individual and group settings.

Specific Unit Information

Unit Coordinator
Name Dr Bob Wong
Office location 18/G24
Office hours By appointment - please email
Technical Coordinator
Name Emily Skoda
Office location 18/114
Office hours 8:00am -- 4:00pm
Phone 9902 4630
Prescribed Animal Behaviour: An Evolutionary Approach, Alcock, J., Sinauer, 9th Edition, 2009
Program for 2015
Handbook Entry BIO3052- Synopsis, Assessment & Prerequisites
Schedule BIO3052 - Lecture & Practical Schedule for 2017
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