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ZO3813: PRACTICAL SKILLS IN ANIMAL BEHAVIOUR (2023-2024)

Last modified: 05 Oct 2023 08:46


Course Overview

Weekly practical activities will provide opportunities to observe animals, develop an understanding of the adaptive value of animal behaviour, and the practical methods we use to study it. Each will be preceded by a lecture covering the subject area and the expectations for the practical that week.

Tasks involving the design of simple experiments to address cause and function of animal behaviour will develop skills in experimental design and hypothesis testing.

Training in the use of a lab/field notebook allows students to demonstrate competence in record keeping. Written reports on a practical experiment supports the develop of communication skills.

Students will apply their knowledge by conducting their own research project, setting their question and choosing a study system, collecting, visualising, and analysing data, and writing up the report

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Aberdeen Sustained Study No
Co-ordinators
  • Dr Vasilis Louca
  • Dr David Fisher

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • One of Biology (BI) or Ecology (EK) or Environmental Sciences (EV) or Forestry (FY) or Plant Science (PL) or Zoology (ZO)
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • Either Programme Level 3 or Programme Level 4

What other courses must be taken with this course?

What courses cannot be taken with this course?

Are there a limited number of places available?

Yes

One or more of these courses have a limited number of places. Priority access will be given to students for whom this course is compulsory. Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on this process.


Course Description

The overall aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the adaptive value of animal behaviour and how it can be measured and analysed. The course is framed around two day trips around Aberdeenshire to observe wildlife and two practical sessions based on animals in captivity. Work will involve both large vertebrates and intriguing invertebrates, with students designing simple experiments to address cause and function of animal behaviour. These tasks are assessed with weekly reports completed in pairs, with feedback given in a timely manner to allow the student to improve week on week.

Following these weekly practicals, students will design with own research project, giving them control over each step of the process. Projects can be conducted on wild animals, on animals in captivity, and those viewable from online webcams. Students will use what they have learnt in the previous weeks to analyse the data they collect and produce an individual report on their project.

Throughout the course students will keep a notebook of the field and lab work, including raw data, informal observations, metadata, and other notes. This notebook is handed in for assessment at the end of the course.

By the end of the curse students will able to:

  • Understand and apply key concepts in animal behaviour
  • Develop observational skills to accurately record behaviours of a diverse range of animals
  • Learn to plan and conduct field and laboratory work in the context of behavioural ecology.
  • Develop an understanding on how behaviour is adapted to the physical and social environment
  • To understand the fundamentals of experimental design, hypothesis testing and data analysis and conduct simple behavioural experiments both in the field and laboratory.
  • Evaluate and analyse field and lab data
  • To develop skills in effective communication and working as part of a team, including producing written reports and field/lab notebooks.

Topics covered include (note subjects may vary from year to year):

  • Types of sampling for animal behaviour
  • Appropriate notetaking, including recording relevant metadata
  • Observing large vertebrates in the field
  • Handling and marking individual invertebrates
  • Social network analysis in the software “R”
  • Video analysis of animal behaviour
  • Linking behaviour to species identification and adaptive functions

 


Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 1 Computer Practical during University weeks 32, 34 - 35, 39
  • 2 Computer Practicals during University week33
  • 1 during University weeks 32, 35
  • 1 Science Laboratory during University weeks 33 - 34
  • 1 Seminar during University weeks 32 - 35, 39

More Information about Week Numbers


Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

Individual project report

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 40
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Informal, formative feedback throughout the course. Verbal feedback to group and individualised written feedback.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralAnalyseEvaluate and analyse field and lab data
ProceduralAnalyseTo understand the fundamentals of experimental design, hypothesis testing and data analysis and conduct simple behavioural experiments both in the field and laboratory
ProceduralApplyDevelop observational skills to accurately record behaviours of a diverse range of animals
ProceduralEvaluateUnderstand and apply key concepts in behavioural ecology
ReflectionAnalyseTo develop skills in effective communication, including written reports and field/lab notebooks.
ReflectionCreateLearn to plan and conduct field and laboratory work in the context of behavioural ecology
ReflectionEvaluateDevelop an understanding on how behaviour is adapted to the physical and social environment

Group short reports

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 40
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

4 group short reports worth 10% each

Informal, formative feedback throughout the course. Verbal feedback to group and individualised written feedback.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralAnalyseEvaluate and analyse field and lab data
ProceduralApplyDevelop observational skills to accurately record behaviours of a diverse range of animals
ProceduralEvaluateUnderstand and apply key concepts in behavioural ecology
ReflectionAnalyseTo develop skills in effective communication, including written reports and field/lab notebooks.
ReflectionCreateLearn to plan and conduct field and laboratory work in the context of behavioural ecology

Field and lab notebook

Assessment Type Summative Weighting 20
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Individual written feedback on the notebook; informal, formative feedback throughout the course. Verbal feedback to group and individualised written feedback.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralApplyDevelop observational skills to accurately record behaviours of a diverse range of animals
ReflectionAnalyseTo develop skills in effective communication, including written reports and field/lab notebooks.
ReflectionCreateLearn to plan and conduct field and laboratory work in the context of behavioural ecology

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.

Resit Assessments

Resubmission of failed elements

Assessment Type Summative Weighting
Assessment Weeks Feedback Weeks

Look up Week Numbers

Feedback

Students will repeat whichever elements of the assessment were failed or not completed at first sitting; the marks for elements already passed will be carried forwards.

Learning Outcomes
Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
Sorry, we don't have this information available just now. Please check the course guide on MyAberdeen or with the Course Coordinator

Course Learning Outcomes

Knowledge LevelThinking SkillOutcome
ProceduralAnalyseTo understand the fundamentals of experimental design, hypothesis testing and data analysis and conduct simple behavioural experiments both in the field and laboratory
ProceduralAnalyseEvaluate and analyse field and lab data
ReflectionAnalyseTo develop skills in effective communication, including written reports and field/lab notebooks.
ProceduralApplyDevelop observational skills to accurately record behaviours of a diverse range of animals
ProceduralEvaluateUnderstand and apply key concepts in behavioural ecology
ReflectionCreateLearn to plan and conduct field and laboratory work in the context of behavioural ecology
ReflectionEvaluateDevelop an understanding on how behaviour is adapted to the physical and social environment

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