2023-2024 / BIOL2213-1

Behavioural ecology


20h Th

Number of credits

 Master in biology of organisms and ecology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 
 Master in psychology (120 ECTS)3 crédits 


Mathieu Denoël, Laurane Winandy


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 lectures aim to provide functional explanations to the complexity of behavioural patterns exhibited in varied environmental situations. It 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.

- Chapter 1: main concepts in behavioural ecology.

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

- 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)

- Chapter 5: personality traits and behavioural syndromes

- Chapitre 6: dispersal ecology, including dispersal syndromes

- Chapter 7: behavioural aspects in the context of global change and conservation

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 ecology and ethology.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

The lectures are mainly based on power points made available on ecampus. Examples illustrate the various presented concepts.

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

The lectures are given in the first quadrimester.

Recommended or required readings

The Power-Point slides of the lectures are available on ecampus for the registered students. Book recomendations are available on ecampus (without obligation). The citations relating to each graph seen in the course are given in the Power points. Students interested in learning more about these studies can find the original references via the intranet, using search engines such as Google Scholar (without obligation). Laboratory publications cited in the course are available on ORBi. Website of the laboratory: https://www.leca.uliege.be


Exam(s) in session

Any session

- In-person

written exam ( open-ended questions )

Additional information:

The evalulation will be based on a single written exam for the entire course. The exam will bring together questions from different chapters of the course, covering at least part of the material given by each teacher. A thorough response to the open-ended questions is expected. At least one graph or table must be rendered and/or explained in detail, and linked to one or more theoretical concepts. The division of points will depend on the questions presented (open questions / graphs count more in the average). Details of the exam are available on ecampus.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course

The lectures start in October. Additional details can be communicated by e-mail or in e-campus to the registered students


Prof. Mathieu Denoël & Dr. Laurane Winandy
Laboratory of Ecology and Conservation of Amphibians
University of Liege


Association of one or more MOOCs