BI1EAA1-Ecology and Behaviour

Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites: BI1EAD1 Introduction to Evolutionary Processes
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr Mark Fellowes


Summary module description:
This module provides an overview of the general principles of ecology and behaviour, covering topics such as altruism and fighting through to predation and mutualisms.

This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of the local and global patterns of the distribution and abundance of living species, and the processes that have resulted in these patterns. It also aims to provide a general introduction to the study of animal behaviour and shows how facts about behaviour are established. Attention is given to how and why central hypotheses are formulated, how experiments are designed to distinguish between hypotheses, and how the results are analysed and interpreted.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•Describe and justify some of the main theoretical approaches in animal behaviour
•Describe research findings in selected areas of animal behaviour
•Design, carry out and analyse simple behavioural experiments
•Describe the basics of population and community ecology
•Describe the fundamental interactions between species, and between species and their abiotic environment
•Review how an understanding of the fundamentals of ecology can be applied to questions of conservation and pest management
•Identify the common bird species found on campus

Additional outcomes:
In the Spring Term students will be provided with an opportunity to develop insights into field ornithology and, through this, to gain an understanding of the critical link between field taxonomy skills and field ecology. In the Autumn Term practicals will help students develop a deeper understanding of behavioural ecology.

Outline content:
This module begins by providing a general introduction to the study of behaviour. Both the classical ethological and the selfish-gene approaches are described. In order to understand behaviour, it is necessary to consider its role in increasing the chances that an individual will survive and reproduce. Such considerations are relevant to man and domesticated animals as well as to 'wild' species. Topics covered may include: To what extent are behaviours genetically determined and to what extent do they depend on developmental experience? Why have some behaviours evolved in some situations but not others? How have altruistic behaviours evolved, and which individuals receive help? Why do animals fight and which individuals do they fight? In what circumstances do learning and communication have survival value? In the Spring Term, we will consider different types of interactions among species, and how an understanding of these interactions may help lead to a more scientifically based programme of conservation and pest management. Some core topics include: population dynamics, herbivory, predation, parasitism, mutualisms, biogeography and global conservation of biodiversity.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 20
Practicals classes and workshops 20 20
Guided independent study 60 60
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Oral assessment and presentation 10
Set exercise 15
Class test administered by School 5

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at:
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    A-one-and-a-half-hour examination

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August/September only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 December 2016

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