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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sean O'Donnell
PSYCH 300
Seattle Campus

Animal Behavior

Introduces important concepts and empirical findings in animal behavior. Emphasizes evolutionary and mechanistic approaches to understanding diversity and complexity of behavior. Topics include communication, mating, migration, and sociality. Prerequisite: either BIOL 118, BIOL 161, or BIOL 180.

Class description

Our main goal will be to achieve a basic understanding of how the behavior of animals has evolved to solve problems posed by their physical and social environments. We will use examples from many different groups of animals- birds, mammals, fish, insects, and others- to explore the ways in which behavior has been shaped by evolutionary forces, especially evolution by natural selection. We will use modern theories and specific examples of animal behavior to explore the diversity of survival and reproductive strategies used by animals (including humans!). In addition to presenting you with information about animal behavior, a major goal of the course is to increase your ability to understand and to think critically about scientific information in general. The course will be organized around two main sections. In the first part, we will cover general concepts that apply to the study of animal behavior, including evolution, mechanisms, and communication. The second part will cover some of the most important research topics, including foraging, mating and reproduction, and parental and social behavior. We will finish with a unit on human behavior.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Formal lecture, review/quiz sections, films. Lectures delivered using Powerpoint.

Recommended preparation

Attend all lectures, review/quiz sections, and films. Read assigned material in textbook.

Class assignments and grading

In-class midterm exams and final exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Sean O'Donnell
Date: 09/13/2005