This course will survey the main theoretical ideas and methods of the scientific study of animal behavior. We will explore functional and evolutionary bases of animal behavior, including reproductive behavior, mating systems, parental care, altruism, social behavior, communication, and cognition. We will bolster these topics with examples from scientific studies of marine mammals, in particular whales and dolphins. The main goals of the course are to instill excitement and curiosity about the subject, and to provide conceptual foundations and intellectual tools to think creatively and critically about animal behavior and science in general. Readings will come from a variety of books and primary scientific literature. Students are expected to both lead and be active participants in class discussions. In addition, students will prepare written responses to readings, and carry out a project that profiles the work of a specific researcher. The format of this project is flexible, and can be in written, video or podcast form. Final products will be presented to the class.
- Teacher: Laela Sayigh