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The Biological Basis for Animal Behavior

Course enrollment will be available for this course once it is scheduled.

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Course Description

Humans have the ability to learn, communicate and problem-solve. But are we alone? This hands-on, field trip and lab-based course will change the way you think about nature. Animals come in a wide range of shapes, colors and sizes. Although each species may behave differently than one another, their goal is the identical: to survive and reproduce. This intensive one-week course will 1) introduce major topics in animal behavior and 2) allude to the biological properties that make behavior possible. In addition to comparing and contrasting animal behavior to humans, we will explore how and why these behaviors exist from an evolutionary, genetic, neural, hormonal and philosophical point of view.

We will investigate numerous innate and learned behaviors, including but not limited to chemical signaling, social structures, and animal communication. This course provides an introduction and overview of animal behavior. Examples will be taken from many species, ranging from the fly to the chimpanzee, demonstrating the complexities and conservation of behaviors across organisms. This is an inquiry-based course.

By the end of this course, students will:
• Explain how the brain integrates sensory information and converts it into behavioral output
• Compare and contrast human behavior with other animals’ behaviors
• Appreciate the range of behaviors animals use to communicate and survive
• Turn a scientific question into a feasible lab experiment
• Communicate an experimental design with a poster presentation
• Improve presentation and public speaking skills

There are no official prerequisites for this course; however, a background in Biology will be advantageous. Although this course will have a lecture component, student participation in lab work, activities and discussion will comprise the majority of class time.

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