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

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

Course Files: courses server/Biology/Bio342 Animal Behavior.
Course Website: (accessible through MOODLE
Course MOODLE:

Office Hours: Tuesday 4:00 - 5:00 PM,
                          Thursday 5:00 - 6:00 PM,
                          Friday 9:00 - 10:00 AM,
                          or by appointment arranged via email (or stop by if my office door is open)

Course Meeting: Tuesday & Thursday 9:00 - 10:20 AM in B19
Lab Meeting time: Wednesday OR Thursday 1:10 - 5:00 PM B210 (expect to stay the full time)

EXAMS: There will be 1mid-term exam1 and one final. (format to be determined)
WEBSITE PROJECT: Student pairs will create a web site for an animal behavior of their choice. Students will comment on each other's draft website 3 weeks prior to the final due date.
For templates and examples from last years course see
Students have the option to work with the freeware "NVU" or Adobe's Dreamweaver.
Assignment details are available and detailed instructions for working in Dreamweaver will be available in lab during week 4.
Student Presentations: Students pairs will present of a primary literature paper during one of the three presentation sessions. Those students who are not presenting will prepare answers to Discussion questions provided by the speakers. 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. (see the details). Each student will be allowed to ommit the written assignment (but not participation) for 2 of the assigned discussion days.



Essential Animal Behavior by Graham Scott; available in the bookstore. This book provides a very simple summary of topics and puts them together in a logical context. The lectures, discussions, and student presentations are expected to be at a much higher level with greater detail. (referred to in syllabus as Scott)

Animal Behavior by Alcock; available on reserve in the library. This text provides a plethora of examples from an ecological and evolutionary aspect. Readings will not be assigned from this text, however students are expected to use the table of contents and index to find relevant topics for further reading.

Measuring Behavior: an introductory guide by Paul Martin and Patrick Bateson; available on reserve. This book will be useful for experimental design during the independent projects. Lab2 will also rely heavily on part of this book. (referred to in syllabus as M&B)

Foundations in Animal Behavior edited by Linda Houck and Lee Drickamer; available at the bookstore (or used copies through This collection of classic papers includes useful commentary, however all assigned reading will be available through JSTOR or the Reed Library. (referred to in syllabus as FAB)

Primary Literature; Many primary literature papers will be assigned. Due to copy right laws students will be responsible for obtaining their own copy through the Reed College Library, but 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 to read during the discussion.

You may also find the following online text to be useful for a strong evolutionary perspective. But keep in mind that these chapters have not been as carefully edited as a text book. Sinervo UC Santa Cruz

Class Format:
Consider each class meeting to be a seminar rather than a lecture. Student involvement is required. Assigned readings are to be done before class not after. While each class meeting is 80 minutes long, there will generally be multiple topics covered each day. In general, Tuesdays will include discussion stimulated by student postings on MOODLE (see below) and Thursday will include a short discussion on the process of science. A short break will be provided when time allows.

Course Discussion Expectations:
Students are expected to come to class prepared to be involved in discussion on all assigned reading, however, there will be 7 days indicated as "Discussion days" with prepared questions. Students are required to prepare typed responses these questions on at least 5 of the 7 days. The "responses" should be short paragraphs based on the students interpretation of the reading (outside reading is not required). Responses MUST be typed (double spaced or just left column), brought to class and handed in at the end of discussion. During the discussion students are expected to amend their response so as to include opinions or objections raised by other students. (For more detail click here)

MOODLE postings/discussions:
There are 7 days that are indicated as MOODLE forum. This forum provides the opportunity for students to decide which examples will be covered during the course. Each Thursday, prior to a MOODLE forum the topic will be defined in class. Students will then post a primary research paper that is of particular interest to them. The .pdf file for this research paper must be posted on the forum no later than Sunday evening along with a brief explanation regarding the significance of the work and why it was selected. Students are expected to read and reply to each other's postings in order to kick-start the discussion for Tuesday in class. Each student must post to a MOODLE forum at least 3 papers during the semester. The number of replies is not strictly regulated (this is supposed to be fun). (Detailed expectations)

Lab Expectations:
Students will be provided with a copy of all lab handouts. Students are expected to read these handouts before coming to lab and bring them to lab along with their lab notebook. Additional copies can be printed from the courses server or from links provided on the course website. Students will generally work in pairs, though students will not have the same lab partner throughout the course and are expected to collaborate equally with all members of the lab.

There will be a few short lab write-ups and in class presentations associated with lab, however, a large portion of the lab evaluations will be based upon the lab notebook. The lab notebook is a record of work that is done in lab as it is being done. Therefore, lab notebooks are not considered to be "homework", However, students may find it useful to include a brief experimental plan before coming to lab and may find it necessary to complete data analysis outside of official lab meeting time. All work associated with 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. Lab notebooks will be evaluated! The majority of the lab exercises are planned to be completed within the 4 hour official lab time. However there are a few exceptions that will require work outside of lab time either for preparation or for analysis of the data. These exceptions will be clearly indicated.

Independent Lab Projects:
Students will conduct a 6 week research project with one partner (exceptions may be made but must be cleared with the instructor). During each prepared lab the instructor will provide ideas for independent projects, however, students are encouraged to explore any area of animal behavior using any techniques that are available at Reed College. The previous independent project posters are available to stimulate ideas. These projects will be evaluated based upon experimental design, experimental execution, and appropriate use of statistical analysis. Projects will not be evaluated on the results, or factors beyond the control of the student. There will be a formal "project management" format that will be evaluated as the experimental plan. The lab notebook will be evaluated as a record of experimental execution. There will be a formal poster presentation session at the end of the semester. All students are expected to attend the poster session and participate in presenting and visiting posters. Details regarding the independent project portion of lab will be provided.
see the lab pages for more details.

Late work will be accepted with a penalty of 15% each day. Penalty-free extensions will be given in the case of illness documented by the health center.
Let me know in advance if you need to miss class because of a conflict with an extracurricular activity. I will make reasonable accommodations, but not after the fact.
I am committed to accommodating all disabilities. Please speak with me early in the semester if there is a way I can facilitate your success in this course.




  • Exams 20%
  • Website 10%
  • Discussion and Participation 15%
  • Student presentation 10%


  • Labs Write-ups 5%
  • Lab Notebook 10%
  • Lab Participation 5%
  • Independent Project Planning 5%
  • Presentation 10%
  • IP Notebook 10%



Assigned Readings are listed here. Note that labs include assigned reading in addition to the lab handout. Students are expected to come to class and lab prepared to discuss these readings. Individual week web pages contain detailed instruction regarding the specific readings as well as further readings.

wk Date Day Topic Required Reading
Assignments and Other Stuff
1 Sept 2
Introduction and Expectations
Observing Behavior:
M&B ch:4&5 (reserve)
Altmann (1974)


Guest Lecture:
David Shepherdson OR Zoo
Hosey (1997)
Snowden, CT (2004)
MOODLE: Animal any behavior research paper
2 Sept.
Evolution of Behavior

Tinbergen (1963) FAB
Thiery (2005)
Darwin chapter VIII FAB
Scott ch:1

ZOO trip:
M&B ch:6&8 (reserve)

2 Sept. 11
Sexuality and Sexual Selection

Tinbergen (1963) FAB
Thiery (2005)

Goodstein (2000) How Science Works
3 Sept. 16

Sexual Selection &
sex role behavior

Crews (1994)
Scott ch:8
Anderson & Simmons (2006)
Clutton-Brock (2008)
Ryan (1998)

MOODLE: Mating Strategy

Guppy Mate Choice:
Dugatin & Godin (1998)
Rodd (2002)
& Morrell (2002)
& Response to Morrell

3 Sept. 18

Mating Strategies and Alt. tactics

Orians (1969) FAB
Goss (1996)Eens and Pinxten (2001)

Platt (1964) Strong Inference
Movie: what females want.
what males wil do
4 Sept. 23

Communication I

Scott ch:5
Burghardt (1970)

Field Trip: Vaux Swifts
Statistics and
Website Design

1-2 slide zoo power point presentation
4 Sept. 25
Communication II

Scott ch:5
Burghardt (1970)

Chamberlain (1890) multiple hypotheses

5 Sept. 30

Scott p:47-56 & 86-92
Emlen (1969) FAB
Moller (2001)
Cain (2005)
Liedvogel (2007)

MOODLE: great migrations

Rover/Sitter 1
Osborn et al. (1997)
Fitzpatrick (2007)

Sokolowski (2001)

5 Oct. 2
Learning and Bird song

Scott p:66-76.
Marler & Tamura (1964) FAB
Marler (2004)
Brenowitz et al (1997)

6 Oct. 7
Student Presentations

see MOODL for readings

Disc. Questions 3 on Moodle

Rover/Sitter 2
Pereira & Sokolowski (1995)

mating behavior

6 Oct. 9

West-Eberhard (2005)

take home exam due tues. Oct 14.
7 Oct. 14

Nervous System & Behavior

Scott ch.2
Roeder & Treat (1961) FAB
Nishikawa (2002)

Barnard (2007) Ethical Regulation

Electric Fish lab:
readings TBA

7 Oct. 16
What is it like to be a bat?


Cuthill (2007) Ethical Regulation
IP-Project management
Break no class
9 Oct. 28
Guest Lecture:
Nate Sawtell, OHSU NSI
IP -Ghant chart
9 Oct. 30
Behavioral Endocrinology

Lehrman (1965) FAB
Beach (1949) FAB
Wingfield (1990)

Spider Fest @
Lewis & Clark 5:00
10 Nov. 4
Genes and Behavior

Scott p:57-64.
Sokolowski (2001)
NY-Times 2005
NY-Times 2007
Boak (2002)
McKay (2008)

MOODLE: Genes & Behavior
Website posted to server by 5:00
10 Nov. 6
Genes and Behavior
Robinson (2005)
Sapolsky (2004)
Renn (2008)

Griffiths (2008) History of Ethology
Movie: Stress in the Wild
11 Nov. 11
Student Presentations

see MOODL for readings

Disc. Questions 4 on Moodle
Website critiques due in class
11 Nov. 13

Foraging behavior
Scott ch:6

12 Nov. 18

OFT Disucssion

Pierce & Olalson (1987)
Stearns & Schmid-Hempl (1987)
MOODLE: optimal foraging
12 Nov. 20

Neural Mech. of Reward

Smith (1973) FAB
Dawkins Chp. 12
Axelrod/Hamilton (1981)
Lee et al., (2008)
Sugrue et al (2005)
Economist article

Kelly (2006) Replication
13 Nov. 25
Student Presentations

see MOODL for readings

Disc. Questions 6 on Moodle


T-Day no class
14 Dec. 2

How parasites manipuluate behavior

Sapolsky (2003)
MOODLE: Parasites
Final Websites due on server
14 Dec. 4
Adaptationist program
Gould & Lewontin (1979)
Mayr (1983)
take home exam due on Dec9
Owens (2006) Where are we going?
15 Dec. 9
T is a Th
"Personality" &
Individual Variation
Sih et al., (2004)
Wolf et al. (2007)
Storey et al. (2006)
MOODLE: Animal Personalities
IP Abstracts due
15 Dec. 17th
6:00 9:00
Poster Presentations

IP - Poster visits

IP-Assessment by email