Behavioural Ecology

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

The course focuses on fundamental concepts in behavioral ecology with an emphasis on evolutionary theories and empirical testing of animal behavior. The interactions between an individual¿s interest, competition, cooperation and social behavior are central. How animals find resources, select prey and avoid predation are important topics, along with sexual selection, reproductive investment and parental care. The course are structured around evolutionary questions and theories applied on practical projects that require active student participation.


Learning Outcomes


The candidate

  • can use theories and perspective in evolutionary biology to interpret animal behaviour.
  • can analyse how resource distribution, prey selection and predation affect optimal behavioural decisions.
  • can evaluate central trade-offs involved in mate choice, parental investment, communication and signalling.
  • can explain fundamental mechanisms for the evolution of cooperation and social behaviours
  • can recognize central research question and controversies in behavioural ecology


The candidate

  • can apply evolutionary theory and relevant research findings on case studies and practical problems
  • can formulate research questions and scientific hypotheses and suggest ways to test them in field and lab experiments.
  • can conduct simple experiments in behavioural ecology and record, analyse and illustrate the results with figures and tables.
  • can use simple analytical and numerical models to study optimal behavioural choices and evolutionally stable strategies


General competences

The candidate

  • can find, evaluate and refer to relevant scientific literature and use this to discuss a research question or own observations
  • can discuss different experimental designs to test hypotheses in behavioural ecology.
  • can plan and conduct experiments with living organisms in collaboration with others, and in accordance with ethical guidelines and research standards
  • can exchange views and participate in academic discussions based on research in evolutionary biology.
  • can present scientific theories, research results and methods both in writing and orally.


Semester of Instruction



This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday in week 3.


It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section ( The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Required Previous Knowledge
Compulsory courses in bachelor's in biology, or equivalent courses.
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

Oral presentation, field course. Approved mandatory activities are valid for 6 semesters.




Forms of Assessment
Project work and presentations (25%), oral exam (75%).
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find courseevaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.