Course Descriptionfavorite saying

This course presents an integrated approach to the study of behavior – the phenotype through which an organism interacts with, and also modifies, its environment. We will study how behavioral phenotypes are shaped by the social and physical environment. We will analyze how behavioral phenotypes are implemented through development by neural physiology, gene networks and individual genes. Conversely, we will study how behaviors modify the environment and thus impact the physiology and genetics of organisms. These topics will be integrated through an evolutionary approach. Examples will be drawn from both laboratory and field studies using comparative molecular and behavioral approaches to identify patterns and recurring themes, which will be discussed in the context of existing theories about animal behavior

Instructor: Professor Suzy Renn
office: B124
phone: 503 517 7967

Course Files: Animal Behavior.
Course Website:

Office Hours: Tues. 11:00 - 12:00
                        Fri.       1:00 - 2:00
                        by appointment, arranged via email

Course Meeting: section 1: Tues. Thus. 9:00 - 10:20 AM
Lab Meeting: section 1: Wed.  1:10 - 5:00
                       section 2: Thur.   1:10 - 5:00

COURSE ASSIGNMENTS: Students are expected to come to class prepared to be involved in discussion each day. Chapter assignment: In the first two weekw we will be reading "A Beginners Guide to Animal Behaviorl". Students will be assigned a chapter to summarize and prepare questions. In class we will discuss these chapters and the assignment will be turned in.
Specific days are designated as "Discussion days".
On 2 of the 3 discussion days, students must complete the assigned discussion questions and bring these to class typed. In class students will append their responses with notes during active discussion. These will be turned in for credit and quickly returned to students. Each student will be allowed to omit the written assignment (but not participation) for 1 of the 3 assigned discussion days.
Seminar and field trip days:
This semester there will be 2 seminars and one field trip that are related to animal behavior. Each student is expected to attend 2 of these events and write a short (1/2 page) report of the event. (If scheduling is impossible for you please consult me early in the semester)
Book Club: Each student will be assigned on of seven books by an Animal Behaviorist. On the Tuesday after break the class will meet, discuss and present these books using and assigned format. (see assignment for details)
Website: Student pairs will create a web site for an animal behavior of their choice.
Students will comment on each other's draft website.
For examples from previous years see my TEACHING page.
See the link at the top of this page for additional detail. Instructions for working in Dreamweaver will be available in lab during week 7.
Exams: There will be two in class exams.

LAB EXPECTATIONS: Students are expected to read handouts before lab. Students will generally work in pairs, though not necessarily with the same partner all semester.
Lab notebooks will be evaluated: The lab notebook is a record of work that is done in lab as it is being done. However, students are expected to also include a brief experimental plan prepared before starting lab work. All work associated for lab is expected to be recorded in the lab notebook. More detailed explanation of lab notebook expectations will be given on the first day of lab.
Independent Lab Projects: In teams of two, students will conduct an independent research project for the second half of the semester. The project should be based on ideas generated during the planned labs or exploring any area of animal behavior using techniques that are available at Reed College. Projects will be presented at a formal poster presentation session attended by all students during finals week. Projects will be evaluated by instructor and fellow students based upon experimental design, execution, and appropriate of analysis(not based on results).

Penalty-free extensions will be given only in the case of illness documented by the health center or through prearranged agreement.
Please speak with me early in the semester if there is a way I can facilitate your success in this course. I am committed to accommodating all disabilities.



1. A Beginner's Guide to Animal Behavior by John Byers (available https://
2. Animal Behavior; by John Alcock. Eigth Edition (SUGGESTED: available in bookstore)
3. Measuring Behavior: an introductory guide by Paul Martin and Patrick Bateson
    (on reserve or may be purchased online; second edition is OK; relevant chapters provided as .pdf)

Primary Literature; links will be provided in the online syllabus whenever possible.
Students are expected to print out, & bring to class, all primary literature papers for discussion, or bring a laptop with the .pdf file. It is not possible to "discuss" a paper without having it available during the discussion.


  • Chapter assignment 5%
  • Discussion days 5%
  • Seminar Reports5%
  • Book Club 5%
  • Exams 20%
  • Website 15%
  • Labs Write-ups 15%
  • Lab Notebook 10%
  • Independent Project 20%