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 as well as the evolution of the species. 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

Room: B19
Time: 9:00 - 10:30 Tuesday Thursday
Professor: Suzy C. P. Renn

EXAMS: There will be 2 mid-term exams the course
FINAL: A take home essay (1-2 pages) requiring synthesis of material throughout the course.
WEBSITE PROJECT: Throughout the first half of the semester student pairs will create a web site for an animal behavior of their choice.
For templates and examples from last years course see
Students have the option to work with the freeware "NVU" or Adobe's Dreamweaver.
For detailed assignment download instructions, and evaluation forms
Student Presentations: Students pairs will give a 10 min presentation of a primary literature paper during one of the three presentation sessions. Those students who are not presenting on a given presentation day are expected to be involved in discussion (see sylabus). download presentation details.
Discussion and Participation: Students are expected to come to class prepared to be involved in discussion on all assigned reading. Specific days will be indicated as "Discussion days". On discussion days students are expected to complete the assigned discussion questions, bring these to class, append their response with notes during active dicussion and hand in the results. (download details). Each student will be allowed to ommit the written assignment (but not participation) for 2 of the assigned discussion days.

TEXT BOOKs: We will be using a text book on CD by Barry Sinervo that will be available in class. Another text, "Measuring Behavior: an introductionry guide" by Paul Martin and Patrick Bateson is available on reserve in the library (6 copies). Students wishing to have their own copy of this book are encouraged to buy it used. All required primary literature and review papers will be available through the weekly websites or on e-reserve.

Lab Class B211
Wednesday or Thursday 1:00 - 5:00
Teaching Assistant: Jennifer Leonard

Weekly lab based excercises are primarily planned to be completed during the lab period.
Students should expect to stay and work in lab from 1:00 until 5:00.
Lab notebooks must also be maintained according to standard procedure.
Any weekly assignments are due during lab class the following week unless otherwise stated.

LAB INDEPENDENT PROJECT: For the second half of the semester lab students
will work independently (or in pairs) on a research experiment of their own design. This project may be, but does not need to be, the same as your website project. There are few restrictions other than time (6 weeks) finance (within biology stockroom supplies and minimal budget), and animal welfare that will be placed on these projects. The ideas should be novel, and the methods appropriate to answer the hypothesis.
Final results, as well as experimental methods and background information, will be presented as a poster during the final week.
A "Project Management" assignment is designed to keep the project on target and coordinate activity.
Lab notebooks must also be maintained according to standard procedure. see the lab pages for more details.



Midterm 1 100 pts. 10%
Midterm 2 100 pts. 10%
Final exam 150 pts. 15%
Website 100 pts. 10%
Discussion and participation 50 pts. 5%
Student paper presentation 50 pts 5%


Labs write-ups (total) 100 pts. 10%
lab notebook 100 pts. 10%
Independent Project Project/presentation 150 pts. 15%
Management 50 pts. 5%
lab notebook 50 pts 5%

Office hours are flexxible and by request. or 503 517 7967



Only assigned Readings are listed here. Links to these papers are availble on the weekly sites. Additional suggested reading that maybe covered in lecture are available on the courses serverand are linked from the weekly sites. Details of the additional reading that are not covered in lecture will not be included on exams.

wk Date Day Topic Required Reading Assignment DUE
1 Aug 28 T History and What it is Sinervo Chapter 1   Observing Behavior:
M&B chapter 4 - 5(pg 56-84) (reserve)


Th Tinbergen's 4 Questions Tinbergen (1963)
Snowden, CT (2004)
Sinervo Chapter 1
Disc. Questions 1
2 Sept.
T Observation Method

Michael, RS (2002) Inquiry & Scientific Method
M&B chapter 4 - 5(pg 56-84) (reserve)
M&B chapter 2-3 (pg 6-55) (reserve)


ZOO trip:
M&B chapter 6-8 (pg 84-125) (reserve)
Lab Handout

2 Sept. 6 Th innate vs. learned

Sinervo Chapter 14
Marler (2004) An. Acad. Sience. 76: 189-200.

3 Sept. 11 T Natural Selection

Sinervo chapter 2,3,4
Trut (1999) American Scientist 87:159-169.

  stats and websites:
Nonparametric Statistics
Website Design
1-2 slide zoo ppt
stats problem set
3 Sept. 13 Th

Behavior Genetics

Sinvero chapter 2
NY-Times 2005
NY-Times 2007
Sokolowski (2001) Nature Genetics 2:877-892.
Nair & Young (2005) Physiology 21:146-152.

4 Sept. 18 T Genes & Behavior II
Levels of Selection
and Speciation

Wahlsten et al (2003)
Sinervo Chapter 4 & 5
West_Eberhard(2005) PNAS 102:6543– 6549.

Discuss Wahlsten Rover/Sitter - Larval:
Sokolowski (1980)
Osborn et al. (1997)
4 Sept. 20 Th
Sexual Selection
and mate choice

Sinervo chapter 3 & 10
Moller, AP (1989) Nature 339: 132-5.
Evans, MR (1998) Nature 394: 233-34.
Moller, AP (1999) Moller (1999)Nature 397: 115.
Anderson & Simmons (2006) TREE 21:296-302.

5 Sept. 25 T G&B student presentations

Student Discussion check back for readings

  Rover/Sitter - Adult:
Pereira & Sokolowski (1995) PNAS 90:5044-5046.
Fitzpatrick et al. (2007) Nature 447:210213.
5 Sept. 27 Th Male Strategies and Assessment

Sinervo chapter 9
Zimmerer Kallman_1989

6 Oct. 2 T neuroendocrinology

book chapter on reserve

  Guppy Mate Choice:
Alexander & Breden (2004) J. Evol Bio 17:1238-1254.
Dugatin and Godin (1998) Sci. Amer. 56-61.
6 Oct. 4 Th mating systems
sex role behavior
Parental Investment

Sinervo chapter 9
Eens and Pinxten (2001)

Disc. Questions 3
7 Oct. 9 T

Nate Sawtell guest lecture

Rose (2007) Nat Rev Neurosc 5:943-951

Websites due--posted on the server by noon

Electric Fish:


7 Oct 11 Th EXAM

Simmons and Young chpater 2 (e-reserve)

8     Break no class      
9 Oct. 23 T
communication and signaling
Sinervo chapter 11
Burghardt (1970) "Defining Communication"
think Umwelt
Website Critiques due in class Due:
9 Oct. 25 Th Dominance and Aggression

Wingfield et al (1987) Sci Am. 75:602-608.

10 Oct. 30 T Dispersal, Migration, and Orientation Sinervo chapter 10

10 Nov. 1 Th Mechanism student presentations Student Discussion check back for readings
Final Websites due
11 Nov. 6 T Optimal-Foraging-Theory Sinervo chapter 6 &7
Catania & Remple (2005) Nature 433:519
Cristol et al. (1997)
11 Nov. 8 Th OFT Disucssion
Pierce & Olalson (1987) Oikos 49:111-118.
Stearns & Schmid-Hempl (1987) Oikos 49:118-125.
Disc. Questions 4
12 Nov. 13 T Neural Mech. of Reward Sugrue et al (2005) Nat Rev Neurosci 6:363-375.   IP
12 Nov. 15 Th

Adaptationist program

Gould & Lewontin (1979) PRS 205:581-598.
Mayr (1983) Amer Nat 121:324-334.

Disc. Questions 5
13 Nov. 20 T Selfish Genes &
Evolution of Sociality
Sinervo chapter 4 & 8 & 17
Dawkins Chp. 12 "Nice Guys Finish Last"


13   Th T-Day no class    
14 Nov. 27 T

student presentations

Student Discussion check back for readings   IP-Abstracts due 12/3 at noon
14 Nov. 29 Th EXAM

15 Dec. 4 T "Personality" &
Individual Variation
Bell (2007) Nature 447
Wolf et al. (2007) Nature 447:
Storey, et al. (2006) Can J of Exp Psych. 60:237-245.
Disc. Questions 6  
15 Dec. 5 L-W Poster Presentations     Due: