Fall 2021 - BISC 410 D100

Behavioral Ecology (3)

Class Number: 1649

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 10:30 AM – 11:20 AM
    AQ 3005, Burnaby

    Th 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    SSCC 9000, Burnaby

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2021
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    AQ 3003, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    BISC 102 and either BISC 204 or GEOG 215, all with a grade of C- or better.



An introduction to the evolution of behavior and its adaptiveness in a natural context.


This course is about understanding why animals behave the way they do. We will consider a wide variety of behaviours (social behaviour, foraging decisions, mate choice, parental care, life-history strategies, territoriality, altruism) and seek to understand them as the product of evolution, using the concepts of Darwinian selection and adaptation as theoretical cornerstones. We will briefly discuss the evolution of human behaviour. After becoming familiar with the approaches and methods of behavioural ecology, students come up with their own research question and write an original research proposal. You will never look at an animal in the same way!


  • • Lecture Participation (via in-class works)heets 15%
  • • Tutorial Participation 5%
  • • Research Proposal (two drafts) 20%
  • • Exams (Midterm + Cumulative Final) 60%


Mode of teaching
Lectures-   In-person
Tutorials-   In-person
Office hours with TA/instructor – In-person and/or remote

Midterm – In-person, Burnaby.  Thursday, Oct 14 10:30AM-12:20pm PST

Final – In-person, Burnaby - TBA

Having collected student perspectives via a recent BISC 410 TA, I decided to greatly decrease the complexity and the number of overlapping components/deadlines in this course.  As part of these efforts, I decided not to add a second midterm (which I normally do so that students have a lower-stakes opportunity to learn from midterm 1 before writing midterm 2 and the final exam). 

To give you that same lower-stakes learning opportunity with just one midterm exam, I’ve set up two grading options:

Option 1 = 25% midterm + 35% cumulative final exam.

Option 2 = 15% midterm + 45% cumulative final exam.

For each student: I will calculate both options, and automatically use the best option to assign your final letter grade.  This way, students who stumble on the Midterm will use Option 1 (and make that midterm worth as little as a midterm 1 in a two-midterm course), and students who do well in the midterm will use Option 2 (and keep the exam weights more even).


Hardware/software requirements:

Internet-enabled device (laptop/tablet/phone) for in-class participation is recommended, but not required.

Effective immediately, the Department of Biological Sciences is adopting a mandatory mask policy for all areas under Biology’s control and in spaces elsewhere where Biology faculty teach, applying to everyone regardless of vaccination status.



Internet-enabled device (laptop/tablet/phone) for in-class participation is recommended but not required.


Davies, Krebs & West (2012).  An Introduction to Behavioural Ecology, 4th Edition. Wiley-

Available electronically through the library. The book can be read online and chapters can be downloaded as pdfs.
ISBN: 978-1-4051-1416-5

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.