Advanced Animal Behaviour Course - Distance

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Comments about Advanced Animal Behaviour Course - Online

  • Objectives
    On completion of the course, students will be able to appreciate the evolution and physiology of behaviour, and understand some practical techniques used in behavioural analysis.
  • Entry requirements
    To enable student to complete this course they must have done either done a level 2 course in animal behaviour or have been working with animals.
  • Course description

    Module 1 Objectives

    Lesson 1
    • To appreciate that the nervous system provides an interface between the nerve cells that detect and the nerve cells that respond.
    • To understand that electrical signals are used by the nervous system.
    • To comprehend the simplest form resembling nervous activity are cells that exhibit irritability.
    • To understand that the nerve net is another key stage in nervous system evolution.
    • To appreciate that nerve net arrangements are still used in areas of the vertebrate nervous systems.
    • To understand that radially symmetrical nervous systems provided initial symmetry in nervous system design
    • To appreciate that the bilaterally symmetrical nervous system allowed for brain development and was therefore a key development in nervous system evolution.

    Lesson 2
    • To appreciate that a nerve impulse involves positive ions entering a cell.
    • To understand the principle components of the entire vertebrate nervous system.
    • To comprehend the principle of the summation as nervous activity manifesting as behaviour.
    • To understand the roles of the principle components of the nervous system.   

    Lesson 3
    • To appreciate the processing of vision as an example of how the vertebrate brain processes information.
    • To comprehend the two primary evolutionary lines regarding vision.
    • To understand the superposition eye as an adaptation to low light conditions.
    • To appreciate the apposition eye as been adapted to an illuminated environment.
    • To appreciate the relative attributes of the compound and vertebrate eye.
    • To understand the presence of peripheral filters in the visual processing of some species.
    • To appreciate the extent to which different areas of the brain are used for processing.

    Module 2 Objectives

    Lesson 4
    • To understand why brains are needed.
    • To comprehend that there is a basic vertebrate brain embryo layout from which all vertebrates evolve.
    • To appreciate that there are three primary brain sub-divisions in the vertebrate brain.
    • To appreciate the basic roles of the Prosencephalon, Mesencephalon and Rhombencephalon respectively.
    • To understand the evolution of complex brains and appreciate examples of factors encouraging such evolution.

    Lesson 5
    • To appreciate Hamiltons theory regarding selfish behaviour.
    • To understand how kin selection explains some aspects of altruism.
    • To appreciate that there are several (perhaps interlocking) theories as to how animals recognise kin.
    • To comprehend how some aspects of kin altruism, are exploited by animals.
    • To appreciate that non-kin altruism can occur.
    • To understand how altruism can evolve.

    Lesson 6
    • To appreciate anisogamy as an influence on the limiting factors for male and female reproductive success.
    • To understand the Batemen effect as an extension of anisogamy.
    • To comprehend the difference between and the consequences of intersexual and intrasexual selection respectively.
    • To understand the concept of sequential assessment in intrasexual rivalry.
    • To appreciate that game theory can help to explain how intrasexual competition has developed.
    • To understand Fisher’s theory on intersexual selection and how Zahavi’s handicap principle.
    • To comprehend the reality of the two intersexual theories and how they may co-exist.
    • To appreciate that sperm competition can also be a component in reproductive success.

    Module 3 Objectives

    Lesson 9
    • Appreciate that ecological constraints are a major influence upon the breeding strategy employed.
    • To understand and know examples of how breeding systems can be categorised by the sex that dominates.
    • To be able to understand what monogamy is.
    • To appreciate the ecological factors that influences the prevalence of monogamy.
    • To understand the term polygyny.
    • To appreciate what ecological factors influence the prevalence of polygyny.
    • To understand that evolutionary constraints can be a factor in reproduction and that such constraints inevitably overlap with physiological and ecological constraints.
    • To understand the various theories regarding why one sex abandons another with a brood.

    Lesson 10
    • To appreciat e why scientists sometimes think of animals as ‘acting optimally’.  
    • To understand that the gain in foraging within one patch decreases with time.
    • To comprehend the phrase ‘risk sensitivity’.
    • To understand that different groups of animals have different priorities in foraging.

    Lesson 11
    • Appreciate that ethologists used various categories in which to record behaviour.
    • Understand the term ethogram.
    • Appreciate the value of an ethogram by creating one.

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