Social Behaviour and Communication

Course content

The course covers the main topics in animal social behaviour and communication, illustrated both by textbook examples and recent findings in the field: Levels of socialisation; Motivation and emotions; Communication networks; Signalling, reception and interpretation of communicative behavior under constraints; Signals, information and meaning; Social cognition; Social aspects of animal welfare; Social and territorial behaviour; Tool use; Mating systems; Human-animal interactions (including anthropogenic impacts on wildlife).

Education

MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject

Learning outcome

Knowledge :

By completing the course the student will have obtained detailed knowledge of behavioural and communicative processes fundamental for animal social behaviour and organisation.

Skills :

By completing the course the student will know how to:

  • Explain animal social behaviour and organisation in terms of function, mechanism, ontogeny and evolution;
  • Present in details the connecting and organising function of signals for animal social behavior and explain the evolutionary forces that shape signals and signaling;
  • Explain the relative effects of physical, biological and social environments on individual behaviour.


Competences :
By completing the course the student can:

  • Propose alternative hypotheses to explain a behaviour, design an appropriate experiment to test them and suggest predictions;
  • Measure behaviour using different methods and analyse the data obtained in different manners;
  • Critically discuss results with respect to the hypothesis tested, place them in a broad general context, link them to other behavioural issues and propose further lines of inquiry;
  • Explain the costs and benefits of different experimental designs, data collection and analysis methods and identify sources of error;
  • Present her / his work (in oral and written form) at a level approaching the scientific standard;
  • Extract, present and critically discuss in detail the results of a scientific article about animal behaviour;
  • Identify and explain strengths and weaknesses in scientific articles, suggest solutions to the weaknesses and further inquiries inspired by the strengths.

The course includes a combination of plenary lectures given by the course leader and guest teachers who are experts in the field, discussions of recently-published scientific articles, and experiments using specialised software for measuring behaviour and analysing vocalisations as well as hand-on statistical analyses (notably in R software); two lectures of two hours each, and two discussion confrontations (colloquia) of one hour each, plus one practical of four hours per week, including four group exercise reports and one oral presentation (also in group), for a total of six weeks, followed by an individual project consisting of a five page essay during the seventh week of the course. The course ends with an individual oral defence of the project and an oral examination on the rest of the course contents. All students must hand in at least three of the four exercise reports to take the exam.

Textbook and scientific articles (see Absalon for details).

We recommend that the course participants have basic knowledge about evolutionary biology (for example obtained in the course "Evolutionsbiologi").

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Written
Oral
Individual
Collective
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

The students will be given oral feedback during the discussion confrontations and after the oral presentation. Written feedback will be given for the four exercise reports. These will also be followed-up with oral, collective feedback. The students will also be given individual feedback to their exam essays and oral exam.

ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, 5 page essay, 7 days
Oral examination, 20 minutes
Type of assessment details
The oral examination will consist of defence of the essay (10 minutes) and oral examination on the rest of the course contents (10 minutes). The examination is without preparation time. The final grade is given based on an overall assessment of the essay, the defence of the essay and the oral examination.
Aid
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Two internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competencies described under Learning Outcome.

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 33
  • Preparation
  • 121,5
  • Practical exercises
  • 27
  • Project work
  • 20
  • Guidance
  • 4
  • Exam
  • 0,5
  • English
  • 206,0

Kursusinformation

Language
English
Course number
NBIK14010U
ECTS
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Duration

1 block

Placement
Block 3
Schedulegroup
A
Capacity
No limitation
The number of seats may be reduced in the late registration period
Studyboard
Study Board for the Biological Area
Contracting department
  • Department of Biology
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator
  • Elodie Floriane Mandel-Briefer   (14-6d74776c716d366a7a716d6e6d7a486a717736737d366c73)
Teacher

Elodie Mandel-Briefer, Torben Dabelsteen, Jacobus Boomsma, Björn Forkman, guest teachers and teaching assistants.

Saved on the 28-02-2022

Are you BA- or KA-student?

Are you bachelor- or kandidat-student, then find the course in the course catalog for students:

Courseinformation of students