Prospectus

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EBC Trends in Behaviour and Ecology

Course 2010-2011

Coordinator:
Dr H. Slabbekoorn; h.w.slabbekoorn@biology.leidenuniv.nl

Description:
Understanding the emergence and maintenance of the biodiversity on earth is of prime interest to a wide audience of policy makers, legislators, conservationists, as well as dedicated nature lovers. Biodiversity is strongly linked to the underlying genetic diversity and highly dependent on processes at higher ecological levels. Although selection operates at the level of the individual, processes at the level of population dynamics, community ecology, and ecosystem functioning, play a critical role in shaping the phenotypic diversity within and between species. This course will give students an extensive introduction into the understanding of processes at multiple levels in how they relate to individual phenotypes and in what way they affect, for example, how animals sound and how plants smell. The emphasis will be on cross-level relationships and topics can include for example: gene-environment interactions, predator-prey models, multi-trophic dependencies, gene-culture co-evolution, character displacement, adaptive radiation, and ecological speciation. Apart from being of general interest for students of Behaviour, Ecology, and Evolution, the course provides an excellent basis for MSc-research projects on topics in the IBL-research groups of Behavioural Biology, Plant Ecology and Phytochemistry, Evolutionary Biology, and Integrative Zoology.

Methods of instruction:
This course is based on lectures, discussions, assignments, and self study, using primary literature. There will be special attention for so-called break-through papers and how they change a particular field of research. Teachers from the various research groups will be involved. The time schedule involves a limited number of fixed contact hours with teachers, every day one or more hours, from Monday 9.00 until Friday 17.00. The course will require attention and presence for close to 8 hours per day (together with the time spent on self study and student interactions independent of teachers).

Study material:
Reviews and research articles.

Examination:
Testing will be done by various assignments (participation in discussions, achievements in essay and/or oral presentation).

Course objective:
The aim of this course is to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the area and show them the major theoretical paradigms. They will be trained in reading scientific papers, associating across overlapping disciplines, and discussing and speculating beyond the current state of the art. Students should be able to develop the capacity of integrating current insights into novel ideas and if successful they will be able to generate an innovative and defendable outline for a research proposal (within a collaborative group of supervised students). By the end of the course, students should be well aware of the essential components of the scientific process and they may be tickled to contribute to scientific progress.

Registration
Via Usis

Remarks: –

Costs:
n.a.

Use of DLO:
Blackboard will be used.