Primarily EEB master’s students
Pre-requisite courses: Ecology; Evolutionary Biology
This course will facilitate an understanding that non-human animals do not necessarily see the world in the same way as we do. Students will become familiar with different sensory modalities, why they have evolved, and how these are exploited in behavioural interactions. Students will also learn to appreciate that effective management of natural resources requires an understanding of differences in how animals acquire and use information about their environments. At the end of the course, students will be able to present and discuss research in sensory ecology using a range of different communication skills, and have experience in explaining why sensory ecology is important to a range of audiences.
Period 2, every second year
The course consists of an introduction to how and why behaviour evolves, a debate over which source of variation is more important in the evolution of sensory systems: behaviour or physiology, and an examination of how environmental differences shape the evolution of species via an animals’ perception of its world. We examine how environmental cues generate information, how animals acquire this from interactions with their abiotic, biotic, and social environments, and whether animals trade-off, or integrate and update their behaviour, as they use their sensory systems to acquire new information. Finally, we consider how sensory ecology applies across diverse contexts, and discuss how it can inform conservation, animal husbandry, and urban planning decisions.
Attendance to lectures and discussion meetings is compulsory. The course will include individual and group preparation for group discussions, and will require students to self-learn from reading and engaging with the recommended literature. Students will also be expected to conduct independent literature searches and present key topics through verbal presentations and written essays.
Textbooks on Behavioural Ecology and Sensory Ecology, scientific research articles, individual or pair presentations, group discussions, web-based activities on Moodle.
The final grade (0-5) will be a combination of grades from written work, online tests, at least one presentation, and participation in discussions.
Teaching language: English