Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution

Faculteit Science and Engineering
Jaar 2021/22
Vakcode WMEV003-09
Vaknaam Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution
Niveau(s) master
Voertaal Engels
Periode semester I a (06-09-2021 til 14-11-2021)

Uitgebreide vaknaam Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution
Leerdoelen At the end of the course, the student is able to:

1) apply central concepts in the field of Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution related to the adaptation and developmental mechanisms that shape behaviour.

2) Formulate descriptions and explanations for the adaptive basis and developmental mechanisms that shape animal behaviour within several interconnected research contexts ecology, behaviour and evolutionary genetics).

3) Identify relevant research questions.

4) Develop and apply research techniques and data analysis strategies.

5) Present and defend their proposed strategies to their fellow students both verbally (public defence) and non-verbally (scientific manuscript).
Omschrijving The course aims to provide the students with a thorough overview of the central concepts and research questions in evolutionary and behavioural ecology and the necessary skills to perform independent research in this field. The implications of behaviour are considered at different levels, from genes to individuals, to populations and species interactions, and include a variety of organismal groups, such as mammals, birds, fish and insects. Topics covered include optimality, evolutionary stability, the genetic and physiological basis of behaviour (e.g. genetic pathways, hormones), life history theory, sex allocation, social evolution, mating systems, sexual selection and sexual conflict), co-evolution and individual differences. Students are able to apply these concepts to critically read scientific literature and design their own research project.

Teaching involves lectures, research talks and discussions with speakers, field/labwork and group discussion, skills in experimental design, (statistical) data analysis and working with R. Throughout the course the students will work on a mini-research project in which they learn to develop their own research question, formulate concise hypotheses, design and execute experiments, and efficiently find and process relevant literature. They will receive feedback from teachers during all stages of working on their miniprojects.
The mini-research project will be completed by writing a scientific manuscript and giving an oral presentation based on the performed research project.

The programme includes a week field course at our field station on the island of Schiermonnikoog to study the behaviour of animals and plants in a natural ecological setting. During this field course students will start with their mini-research project. They will develop a research question and their experimental design, and they will collect data in the field to answer their research question.
Uren per week
Onderwijsvorm Hoorcollege (LC), Opdracht (ASM), Practisch werk (PRC), Werkcollege (T)
(Lectures ("blended learning"), Scientific manuscript, Mini-research project)
Toetsvorm Opdracht (AST), Presentatie (P), Verslag (R)
(The final mark is determined on the basis of the marks given for three topics (scientific report (determining 30% of the final mark), oral presentation (determining 20% of the final mark) and one written exam (determining 50% of the final mark))
Vaksoort master
Coördinator prof. dr. ir. J. Komdeur
Docent(en) prof. dr. L.W. Beukeboom ,dr. S.A. Kingma ,prof. dr. ir. J. Komdeur ,prof. dr. I.R. Pen
Verplichte literatuur
Titel Auteur ISBN Prijs
a large number of scientific articles (>40) will be provided for background reading and discussion material.
Entreevoorwaarden The course unit assumes prior knowledge and skill acquired from an (inter)national BSc programme in Biology (viz. evolutionary biology).
Opmerkingen Register for this course by sending an email to:

This course is designed for students of the special track Erasmus Mundus Master Programme Evolutionary Biology (MEME)

The track is highly selective, admitting only students belonging to the top 10-15% of their cohort.

Study load:
Lecture 50 hours
Assignment 30 hours
Practical 80 hours
Self-study 40 hours

Due to overlap, students are not allowed to make both Ecological Research Skills and Behaviour, Ecology, and Evolution part of their master programme of 120 ECTS.
Opgenomen in
Opleiding Jaar Periode Type
MSc Ecology and Evolution: Evolutionary Biology  ( Track Evolutionary Biology) - semester I a verplicht
MSc Marine Biology: Research  (Compulsory master courses) - semester I a keuze