This course will investigate both evolutionary and proximate aspects of animal behavior. Using the logical framework of the “four levels of analysis”, we will cover: 1) the adaptive value of specific behaviors and the role of natural selection in maintaining behaviors; 2) how behaviors have evolved over time; 3) how behaviors develop within an individual; and 4) the neural, hormonal, and physiological mechanisms underlying behaviors. Lectures will cover a variety of topics, including:  natural selection and evolution; genes and the environment; animal learning and cognition; hormones and their role in mediating behavior; neural mechanisms; foraging behavior; predator-prey interactions; sexual selection; animal communication; courtship and mate choice; and social behavior.  In addition to lectures, we will develop skills to understand and interpret primary literature, which will be facilitated through group-discussions of journal articles. The laboratory will focus on developing skills of hypo-deductive inquiry, and on the design, implementation, and analysis of experiments that will be carried out in the laboratory and field. As part of the laboratory, students will develop a sophisticated and in-depth review of the literature focusing on a specific topic of animal behavior, culminating in a final paper and a presentation to the class. 3 class hours and 3 laboratory hours a week for one semester.

BIOL 1212-Methods for Biological Problem Solving

This methods course for science majors develops analytical, laboratory, and field skills through small-scale exercises and investigative experiments. Biochemistry and molecular biology, organismal physiology, and ecology will be used to address the processes of experimental design and data analysis, with emphasis on calculation skills and proper application of statistics. The use of supporting organismal and literature databases in scientific investigation will be incorporated.

BIOL 1312-Integrative Biology II

I team teach this course with Kevin Livingston. The aim of the course is to demonstrate that biology is an integrated discipline, where the connections and interrelationships between levels of biological organization (molecular, cellular, organismal, population, and ecosystem) are critical to understanding unifying principles. We teach that biology is not a collection of static facts, but rather a dynamic, process-oriented discipline focused on solving problems through observation, experimentation, and analysis. Thus, we teach in topic-based modules that are each integrated across biological levels, and we emphasize not only the knowledge base, but also the process by which scientists have built that knowledge base.

Populations change through time, and understanding how and why they change is central to the study of biology. But, this wasn’t always the case. At the time Charles Darwin was developing the theory of evolution by natural selection, most scientists and the public alike believed that plants and animals were static, not changing since the time of creation. Thus, the writings of Darwin transformed our understanding of the dynamic natural world. His ideas have further shaped the fields of medicine, agriculture, and social policy, and motivated great works of art and literature. This course will explore the development of Darwin’s revolutionary ideas through a survey of his life, his major written works, and the influence of his writing on modern thinking.