Psychology 3221G-001

Animal Behaviour

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


An introduction to the scientific study of animal behaviour, emphasizing evolutionary and ecological influences on behaviour. Recent research from the field and the laboratory will be used to illustrate such topics as communication, foraging, orientation, territoriality, mate choice, altruism, and animal cognition.


Antirequisite: Biology 3436F/G


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810, and one of Psychology 2220A/B, 2221A/B or Neuroscience 2000

3 lecture/discussion hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enroll in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record. This decision may not be appealed. You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:                                                           David Sherry                                                 

       Office and Phone Number:                            AFAR Room 201   519 661-2111 Ext 84659      

       Office Hours:                                               By appointment



       Teaching Assistant:                                      Madeleine Brodbeck

       Office:                                                         AFAR Room 210

       Office Hours:                                               By appointment



       Time and Location of Classes:                      Thursdays 9:30 – 12:30

                                                                          UCC Room 59

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


Alcock, J.  Animal Behavior 10th Edition. Sinauer: Sunderland MA


This course provides an introduction to the scientific study of animal behaviour, along with more advanced discussion of selected topics. Psychologists and zoologists, as well as naturalists, philosophers, and others have always asked why animals and people behave as they do. This course examines the answers that are provided by modern research in animal behaviour. The causes of behaviour, the functions that behaviour serves, how behaviour develops, and how it has evolved will all be examined. The influence of natural selection on behaviour and the adaptive consequences of behaviour are emphasized. Examples and illustrations are drawn from recent research in animal communication, foraging, orientation, sexual behaviour, social organization, animal cognition, and other topics. 


Learning Outcome

Learning Activities



Knowledge and Understanding

Describe and explain key concepts and research findings in animal behaviour. 


Distinguish among evolutionary, functional, causal, and developmental questions about behaviour.


Differentiate among ecological, behavioural, and neural levels of analysis of behaviour.



Participating in class discussion


Preparing for class presentation


Writing essay

Term Test


Class presentation




Final Exam

Critical Thinking

Use Web of Science to locate current research findings.


Organize and synthesize research results.


Critically evaluate concepts and theories.


Formulate testable hypotheses about animal behaviour.



Participating in class discussion


Preparing for class presentation


Writing essay

Term Test


Class presentation




Final Exam








Communicate ideas and research-based evidence orally and in writing in a professional manner.


Participating in class discussion


Delivering class presentation  


Writing essay

Term Test


Class presentation




Final exam



The term test and the final examination will consist of short answer and essay questions on lectures and text material. The final exam will emphasize lecture and course material not previously examined in the term test, although understanding of some basic ideas and concepts may be examined in both the term test and the final exam. The group presentation consists of a 30 minute presentation by students in groups, on a topic chosen to illustrate how research in animal behaviour is actually done in the field and in the lab. Each student will be assigned a research paper on the topic and the presentation will be a collective project by all members of the group. The essay is a written discussion by each student of their assigned research paper and is strictly an individual, not group, effort. The written assignment is due one week following the presentation and should be10 typewritten double-spaced pages in length, about 2500 words.


Style should follow the American Psychological Association (APA) Publication Manual 6th Edition. There is a penalty for late submission of 3% per day.



PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail


Term Test 1½ h, February 15 2018                                              25%

Group Presentation                                                                   10%

Essay                                                                                       25%

Final Exam 3 h, Final Examination Period April 14–30, 2018       40%


Date                 Topic                                                               Text Chapters

January 11       What is animal behaviour?                                             1, 10

18                     Natural selection and the evolution of behaviour                         2, 3

25                     Communication                                                             4

February 1        Foraging, predation, and optimality                                5

8                     Orientation and navigation                                             6

15                     Term Test 1½ hours

22                     Spring Reading Week February 19-23              

March 1            Sex and sexual selection                                               7

            March 4   Evaluation for 15% of Course Grade Available

8                      Mating systems                                                             8

15                     Parental care                                                                 9

22                     Development of behaviour                                             11

29                     Brain and behaviour                                                       12, 13

April 5              Animal and human behaviour                                         14


Classes end April 11;   Study Days April 12-13;   Final Examination Period April 14 – 30 2018


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.