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 Website:
Lab Files to Print and Turn in: Animal Behavior.

Office Hours: Friday. 10:00 - 12:00
                          by appointment, arranged via email

Course Meeting: Wed. & Fri. 8:30 - 10:00 AM
Lab Meeting: section 1: Wed.  1:10 - 5:00
                         section 2: Thur.  1:10 - 5:00

Students are expected to come to class prepared to be involved in discussion each day.
Chapter assignment:
In the first two weeks we will be reading "A Beginners Guide to Animal Behavior". In class students will work in groups to summarize chapters and prepare potential exam questions.

Specific days are designated as "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. The amended typed responses will be turned in for credit and quickly returned to students.

Seminar and field trip days:
This semester there will be 3 seminars and 1 field trip that are somewhat related to animal behavior. Each student is expected to attend 3 of these events and write a short (1/2 page) report of the event. (If scheduling is impossible please consult with me early in the semester for an alternate solution)

Book Club:
The entire class will read an excellent book by an animal behaviorist about animal behavior. Each student will be assigned one paper by this researcher. Students assigned the same paper will work as a group to prepare a short presentation of that paper. (assignment details will be made available soon)

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 "Website Project" page for additional detail. Instructions for working in web degisn software will be available in lab.

There will be two exams and a Final.
               October 16th
               November 25th
               Final TBD (during finals week)

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. 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. An Introduction to Animal Behavior by Michael Ryan andWalt Wilczynski
2. A Beginner's Guide to Animal Behavior by John Byers( available in bookstore)
3. Animal Behavior; by John Alcock. 8th or 9th Edition (available in bookstore)
4. Measuring Behavior: an introductory guide by Paul Martin and Patrick Bateson (available in bookstore)
    (2nd or 3rd editions are OK though note chapt. #s differ)

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 10%
  • Seminar Reports 5%
  • Book Club 5%
  • Exams 20%
  • Website 15%
  • Labs Write-ups 10%
  • Lab Notebook 10%
  • Independent Project 20%