What do animals do, how do they do it, and why? In this year-long investigation of animal behavior, students will answer these questions through extensive use of the scientific literature, in-depth discussions of the evolutionary and ecological theories that are fundamental to the study of behavior, independent research projects, and several weeks in the field, including two weeks in the Fall in the Pacific NorthWest, and a multi-week trip to tropical ecosystems in Panama during Winter quarter. Animals hibernate, forage, mate, form social groups, compete, communicate, care for their young, and so much more. They do so with the tools of their physiology, anatomy, and, in some cases, culture, for reasons having to do with their particular ecology and evolutionary history. In this program, we will begin with a review of animal diversity, and continue our studies of behavior from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. Students will be expected to engage some of the complex and often contradictory scientific predictions and results that have been generated in this field, through lectures, workshops and take-home exams, as well as undertake their own, intensive field research.
In fall quarter, students will conduct short-term field projects, and become skilled in library research. In winter quarter, we will continue to learn theory and statistics, and will travel to Panama to study the differences and similarities between the neotropics and the PNW, focusing on the animals and their behavior. Particular attention will be paid to the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) that live in lowland rainforests. In spring quarter, having studied the methods, statistics, and literature frequently used in behavioral research, students will generate their own hypotheses and go into the field to test them through extensive, independent field research.This work might be in Panama, the Pacific Northwest, or through an internship. Students will return to campus for the last two weeks of spring quarter to complete their data analysis and present their research. Some topics covered in this program will include mating systems, territoriality, female mate choice, competition, communication, parental care, game theory, plant/animal interactions and convergent evolution. Several readings will focus on one group of animals in particular: the primates, including Homo sapiens. Students will be allowed to participate in Winter quarter only if they do high-quality work in the Fall, and are fully prepared for tropical field work; full credit in Fall is not sufficient to guarantee a spot in Winter.