ZOOL310 Behavioural and Population Ecology

Credits (ECTS):10

Course responsible:Louise Chavarie

Campus / Online:Taught campus Ås

Teaching language:Engelsk, norsk

Limits of class size:20

Course frequency:Annually

Nominal workload:Structured work: 40 hours. Preparation of own presentation: approx. 60 hours. Personal commitment: approx. 150 hours.

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

About this course

The course discusses key theories in behavioural and population ecology, and presents new research in this field. The emphasis is on understanding animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective, and how abiotic and biotic ecological mechanisms affect the distribution and size of populations. Within this field, different current topics are set up, each represented by two scientific articles. The selections of articles is done by the teachers in advance. In order for the curriculum to be up to date, reuse of articles from one year to the next is limited to 10%.

Learning outcome

A candidate with completed qualification shall have the following learning outcomes in the course:


The student shall have good understanding of how results from scientific studies in ecology are presented in international scientific journals. The student shall have thorough knowledge of evolutionary theories for the interpretation of animal behavior and which factors affect the distribution and density of populations.


After completing the course, the student should be able to understand and interpret the content of current scientific articles in the field of behavioural ecology and population ecology, be able to critically assess the scientific value of the results in these articles, and be able to present such articles to academic colleagues. Students should be able to reflect independently about animal behaviour from an evolutionary perspective, further identifying important mechanisms that influence changes and fluctuations in populations over time.

General competence:

The student shall be familiar with how scientific results in ecology are presented written and orally. Student will have increased ability to understand scientific literature, ability to extract key points from published material, ability to present research to others, and ability to think critical.

  • Each seminar consists of two class hours, and includes student presentation and group discussion of two articles. These two articles are within the same topic and are chosen to complement each other, e.g. by representing conflicting results and interpretations. Each scientific article is presented by a participant and discussed either during the presentation or after the presentation. The first presentations of the semester are held by the teachers to give the students examples of how the presentation can be done. Then the students present articles themselves. The discussion is led by the teacher. For each article, the teacher has created approximately 5 questions that the student will work on in groups, and the group must submit their written answers before each seminar. Typically, the syllabus is about 40 articles, so with e.g. 20 participants on the course, students present 2 articles each.
  • The student´s learning is supported through academic supervision during the seminars, and in the teacher´s office hours.
  • ZOOL250 and ECOL200, and ZOOL210 or ZOOL220.
  • Combined assessment where:

    - Oral exam count 80%. The oral exam last about 40 minutes per student. In this exam, the student will be examined in three scientific articles selected by the teachers. One of these articles has been presented by the student himself/herself in a seminar, while the two others have been presented by other students.

    - Responses to weekly questions count 10%.

    - Power point presentation of two scientific papers counts 10%.

  • An external sensor grades the oral exam.
  • First lecture, group work and presentation of two articles that has to be passed. All the seminars with teacher present: approx. 40 hours.
  • Registration deadline for the course is 31. August. Seats in the course will be distributed right after this date.

    Students that do not get a seat in the course can meet at the first lecture. Free seats will be distributed after the first lecture.

  • Seminars with teacher present: approx. 40 hours.
  • M-ECOL and M-NF
  • Special requirements in Science