2019-2020 / BIOL0809-1

Ecophysiology, ethology


40h Th, 15h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in biology of organisms and ecology (120 ECTS)5 crédits 


Mathieu Denoël, Claire Périlleux, Jean-Christophe Plumier


Mathieu Denoël

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

The course is declined in three theoretical parts:
1. Ecophysiology
The first part of the course is devoted to plant and animal ecophysiology. The plant side is made of two chapters : 1) adaptation and physiological tolerance of abiotic stress; 2) relationships between organisms, including beneficial associations, biotic stress and allelopathy. The animal side will mainly focus on physological responses to modifications of the environment. The relationship between physiology and behaviour will also be addressed.
2. Behavioural ecology
The second part of the course is devoted to a component of ethology, behavioural ecology. It gives functional explanations to the complexity of behavioural patterns exhibited in varied environmental situations. The course explains how behaviours contribute to the survival and reproductive success of individuals and how the observed tactics and strategies have been selected. Optimality and maximalisation are of primary importance in this perspective. After a general introduction (main concepts and methods in behavioural ecology), the course is divided in three main chapters: resource exploitation (optimal foraging, selection of reproductive habitat, and dispersion), reproductive systems (sexual dimorphism, mate choice, intra-sexual selection, sex roles, public information, mating systems, alternative mating tactics, and sperm competition), and interactions (parental care, life in groups, and cooperation).

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The aim of the Ecophysiology part of the course is to illustrate how physiology governs the animal ineractions with their environment and influences animal behaviour.
The aim of the course of ethology is to explain relations among behaviour, ecology and evolution in a perspective of optimality and selection. It consists in explaining theories in behavioural ecology on diversity of behavioural patterns and in illustrating them with empirical data from varied zoological groups.

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

It is useful to have bases in physiology, ecology, ethology and evolution.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

theoretical lectures, presentations by the students and practicals.
The course on animal ecophysiology needs the reading of a article or book chapter in preparation of each chapter of the course.

Mode of delivery (face-to-face ; distance-learning)

The lectures are given during the first quadrimester, starting in September. The presence during practicals (laboratory) is mandatory.

Recommended or required readings

The Power-Point slides will be available in a .pdf format. Articles and book chapters will be available on ecampus.
The Power-point slides and the table of contents of the lectures in behavioural ecology are available on ecampus

Assessment methods and criteria

The evaluation is based on oral or written exams, and also on the practical. For the Plant Ecophysiology part, the evaluation is based on a written exam.

Work placement(s)

The practical part (zoo) previously associated to this lecture is now proposed separately

Organizational remarks

More information on the web site of etho lab: http://www.labos.ulg.ac.be/etho/en/denoel/teaching


Prof. Mathieu Denoël, Laboratory of Fish and Amphibian Ethology, Behavioural Biology group, Institute of Zoology (Bât. I1), Quai van Beneden 22, 4020 Liège E-mail: Mathieu.Denoel [a] uliege.be
Prof. Jean-Christophe Plumier, Animal Physiology, Bât B22, chemin de la vallée 4, 4000 Liège E-mail: JC.Plumier@ulg.ac.be
Prof. Claire Périlleux, Laboratoire de Physiologie végétale, Bât. B22 Sart Tilman, chemin de la vallée 4, 4000 Liège E-mail: cperilleux@ulg.ac.be