In this course, we will examine the diversity of animal behavior among species and consider what function behavior serves and how it evolved. We will develop your curiosity about the living world, using lectures, readings, discussions in class, and occasionally videos. Through these activities, we will examine scientific methods of posing and testing questions and hypotheses.

Upon completion of the course, students will be able to do the following:

  • Describe the scientific process, including how experiments are done.
  • Develop critical thinking skills and skills necessary for life-long learning.
  • Apply evolutionary principles to an understanding of animal behavior.
  • Demonstrate ability to organize and communicate ideas about scientific knowledge.


This course aims to get you excited about animal behavior, but in the context of the scientific method. The course is less about endless details about feeding, fighting, predator avoidance, social behavior, and parental care, and more about the theories and perspectives that bind those details together. In this course, you will not be required to know all there is to know about whale behavior or fruit fly behavior or any one species' behavior. Rather we will ask you to apply examples of behavior in a variety of animals, especially birds and insects on which most studies have been done, to concepts relating to mechanism, function and evolution. Through lectures, readings, class discussions, and videos, you will learn a new way of thinking about nature, which revolves around asking questions and finding answers to those questions. Yes, you will know facts, many of them, but you will also know how those facts are revealed. We believe that the learning process is improved when you discuss new ideas with your peers, the graduate TAs, and the instructors. We want this class to be interesting and challenging for each of you. We hope that it stimulates your curiosity about the living world around you and fosters confidence in your abilities to find, evaluate, synthesize, and apply scientific information throughout your life.


1. You are responsible for all material presented in class and all material in required readings. You are also responsible for any assignments given in class, regardless of your attendance.

2. Anticipated absences at exams MUST be discussed with Dr. Papaj prior to the exam. Makeup exams will be rescheduled at convenience of instructor. Unexcused absences from exams will result in a failed grade for that exam. All holidays or special events observed by organized religions will be honored for those students who have affiliation with that particular religion. Absences pre-approved by the UA Dean of Students (or Dean's designee) will be honored.

3. All students are required to write an individual, original term paper on non-human animal behavior. This paper MUST have an ecological and/or evolutionary focus. Undergraduates have the option of doing a library research paper or hands-on research paper. Hands-on studies of animal behavior are encouraged; however, only studies on insects and certain invertebrates are allowed, owing to animal care regulations. Library research papers will be written on topics chosen from a list provided in class. Graduate students are required to do original research (not part of thesis work), results of which must be reported in publication format.

Please note: Any paper found to be previously or concurrently submitted for evaluation in another course will receive a failing grade. University standards for plagiarism will apply to grading. The UA Student Code of Conduct states: "All forms of student academic dishonesty, including but not limited to cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, and plagiarism, are prohibited." "Plagiarism" means representing the words or ideas of another as one's own.

(The UA Library has a very useful web page about plagiarism -- what constitutes plagiarism, the relationship between paraphrasing and plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarism.)

Title for the paper due:
Outline and reference list due:
Two copies of first draft due:
Peer reviews due:
Second draft due:
Final submission due:

September 4
September 18
October 11
October 23
November 13
December 4

4. Because this is a writing emphasis course, exams include short answer and/or essay questions. Exams cover primarily (but not exclusively) material covered since the last exam (if any). However, any material covered since the beginning of the course is fair game for any exam.

5. We will use an absolute grading scale so that you are not in competition with other students. Your final grade will be determined by the percentage of the total points accumulated from exams, term paper, and class participation.

What percentages of total points get what grade:

A = 88-100 percent
B = 75-87
C = 60-74
D = 45-59
E = 0-44

Where the total points come from:

Exam #1
Exam #2
Final Exam
Term Paper

Total Points

100 points


Participation points are based on 1) in-class pop quizzes; 2) outside-class assignments; 3) class participation within the lecture period and; 4) other outside activities of your choosing. Outside-class assignments (reading or exercises) are documented in a 1-page, single-spaced report, turned in to us by the date assigned in class. 'Other outside activities' are diverse. They may include going to behavior research seminars on campus or doing field observations of animal behavior. See also the video option on the home page. More outside activities is always better, especially if your class participation is low.

6. Unless stated otherwise, written assignments (drafts of term paper, etc.) MUST be typed or printed on white paper. No handwritten submissions accepted! If printed on inkjet printers, type must be easy to read. Failure to comply will result in a zero for the assignment.

Other University-Based Guidelines
University policies regarding disruptive/threatening behavior will be followed. As common courtesy to the instructor and fellow students, cell phones and pagers should be turned off during class time.

Students registered with Disability Resource Center should submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if they are requesting reasonable accommodation.

Last modified: 13-Nov-2012
Webmaster: Dan Papaj
Ostrich photo by D. Papaj
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