ZOOL250 Behavioural Ecology

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Svein Dale

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Norsk

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:Structured work: ca 40 hours. Preparation for discussion groups and exams: approx. 210 hours.

Teaching and exam period:This course starts in Spring parallel. This course has teaching/evaluation in Spring parallel, .

About this course

The course gives an introduction to basic terms and topics within behavioural ecology, in particular foraging ecology, predation, competition for resources, group living, sexual selection, parental investment, mating systems, sex allocation, altruism, cooperation, communication, signals and human behavioural ecology. Central questions are the costs and benefits of different behavioural strategies, how natural selection on behaviour has enabled animals to become adapted to their environment, and how hypotheses for the evolution of various behavioural traits in animals can be tested.

Learning outcome

A candidate with fulfilled qualifications should have the following learning outcome:


The student should have knowledge about basic evolutionary theories for the interpretation of animal behaviour as an adaptation to the environment.


The student should be able to formulate hypotheses explaining behavioural patterns in an evolutionary perspective, make predictions from these hypotheses, and thereby outline how these hypotheses may be tested.

General competense:

The student should be familiar with evolutionary thinking in explaining animal behaviour, and thereby be able to understand ongoing research within behavioural ecology and disseminate hypotheses in behavioural ecology to the general public.

  • The teaching takes place in the following ways:

    1) The content of the course is presented to the students through lectures (two hours lecturing per chapter in the textbook).

    2) The students are trained in formulating the professional content of the course through compulsory group work on predetermined questions. The students are divided into groups, and each group is given a room to work in. The students are given a list of questions and shall work on these questions during the 12 hours assigned for this group activity. A teacher visits each group several times for supervising. Each group shall hand in a written answer to a predetermined selection of the questions. The answers are evaluated by the teacher, and must be passed in order to be approved.

  • The student´s learning is supported through academic supervision in the hours assigned for group exercises, and in the teachers' office hours.
  • ZOOL100 and ECOL100 or ECOL200
  • The exam consists of a written test (3 hrs) that counts 100% of the final grade.

  • An external sensor grades the written answers from the exam in knowledge and understanding.
  • Submission of exercises in discussion groups. The exercise is evaluated by the teachers, and must be passed in order to be approved.
  • The course can be taken at several other learning institutions in Norway, and at a number of learning institutions abroad.
  • Lectures: 24 hours. Exercises in discussion groups: 12 hours.
  • Special requirements in Science