2019-2020 / ZOOL0213-1

Behavioural ecology


15h Th, 15h Pr

Number of credits

 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


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 a complement to the general course of ethology given in the first cycle. It focuses on behavioural ecology and 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 (first lecture), the course is divided into three main chapters: resource exploitation (lecture 2), reproductive systems (lectures 3 to 6) and interactions (lecture 7).

- Chapter 1: main concepts and methods in behavioural ecology.

- Chapter 2: choice of feeding patches, dietary items, reproductive habitat, and dispersion.

- Chapter 3: sexual dimorphism, mate choice, intra-sexual selection, sex roles, public information, mating systems, alternative mating tactics, and sperm competition.

- Chapter 4: interactions with conspecifics (parental care, life in groups, cooperation, altruism)

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

The aim of the course 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 ethology.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

A bibliographic report on a specific topic in behavioural ecology

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

The lectures are given in the first quadrimester

Recommended or required readings

The Power-Point slides and the table of contents of the lectures are available on the web site of the Behavioural Biology Unit http://www.labos.ulg.ac.be/etho/en/denoel/teaching

Assessment methods and criteria

The evaluation is based on an oral exam on the lectures and is completed by an evaluation of the reports.

Work placement(s)

Organizational remarks

The lectures start at the end of September or in October. All details are available on the following web page : http://www.labos.ulg.ac.be/etho/en/denoel/teaching


Prof. Mathieu Denoël Behavioural Biology Unit Institute of Zoology (Bat. I1) University of Liege Quai van Beneden 22 4020 Liège
E-mail: Mathieu.Denoel[a]uliege.be

Items online

Behavioural ecology
This link gives access to the web page of the course of behavioural ecology. The lecture notes in pdf format can be downloaded individually. A detailed table of contents, a bibliographic list and resources for the practicals (reports) are also provided.