This course is designed to give you an understanding of the way in which evolution, and natural selection in particular, shapes behavior. Social behavior receives special attention because evolutionary theory makes unique, and often counter-intuitive, predictions in this area. The course strongly emphasizes concepts over rote memorization of facts. Our goal is to teach you how to apply an evolutionary approach to the study of the behavior of animals, including humans.


Reading list: for those who wish to read more about animal behavior


Lectures. Please note: this is a large class. As a courtesy to your tuition-paying classmates, please don't come to class late or leave early -- or, if you must, sit near an exit and come and go as quietly as possible. Lectures are critically important to the course; material unavailable elsewhere (e.g., the textbook) will be presented.

Films. The films on animal behavior are an integral part of the course. They provide excellent visual examples of the principles discussed in lectures and these examples will used throughout the course in lectures, discussion sections, and exams. The films are well-narrated, superbly photographed, and quite entertaining (most are from David Attenborough's PBS series, The Trials of Life).

Discussion sections. These are also an integral part of the course, and are designed to supplement the lectures. Discussion sections are used for exercises that illustrate or expand on difficult lecture material, or to review for exams. Exams frequently contain questions taken directly from discussion section exercises. We ask that you attend the section for which you are registered, unless prior approval is obtained.


Exams. There will be three 50-minute, 100-point exams. Each exam covers one-third of the course and the three are weighted equally. Questions are based on lectures, text readings, discussion sections, and key points from films. The exam format is short answer and list. Grades will be based on the accuracy, organization, conciseness, and legibility of your answers.

Appeals. Exam keys will be posted on the course website. If you believe that an exam question was misgraded, you may appeal to have your exam regraded. You can do this by submitting in writing a logical argument as to why you think that you deserve more credit for an answer. Appeals must be submitted no later than three days after graded exams are returned in class.

Replacement exams. A replacement exam will be offered to anyone who has a legitimate, documented reason for missing Exam 1 or Exam 2. The Replacement Exam will cover material from the first two-thirds of the course, and will be given during the second hour of the final exam period (immediately after Exam 3). No other make-ups will be offered.

Final Grades. There is no extra credit in this course. I generally try to maintain a course-wide average of about 2.6-2.8. Your final grade will be calculated from the total points on Exam 1, 2, and 3. Your grade will be calculated as follows:

1) Score = (Total points / 300) * 100
2) Decimal score = (Score - 55) / 10 (a score of less than 62 receives a 0.0)
For example, a course-end total of 238 points would produce a score of:
(238 / 300) * 100 = 79.33
Therefore, your decimal score, reported to the registrar, would be:
(79.33 - 55) / 10 = 2.4

Disabled Students. If you have a letter from DSS indicating a disability that requires accommodation, please present the letter to your instructor promptly.