Summer 2023 - BISC 410 D100

Behavioral Ecology (3)

Class Number: 2278

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Mon, 10:30–11:20 a.m.

    May 8 – Aug 4, 2023: Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 17, 2023
    Thu, 12:00–3:00 p.m.

  • 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.


The lecture portion of this course is about understanding why animals behave the way they do. We will consider a wide variety of behaviours (including cooperation, altruism and spite, foraging decisions, signalling, mate choice, and reproductive strategies) and explore theories that seek to understand them as the product of evolution. Students will become familiar with approaches and methods used by behavioral ecologists, and have the opportunity to develop novel hypotheses for (and design experiments to test) why animals, including humans, behave the way they do. 

The midterm and final exam (together worth 60% of the course) will assess your understanding of these concepts and skills, and your ability to apply them to new situations.  For each student, the instructor will try both of the exam-weighing options below, and use the best option to calculate your final grade.  You are allowed to use a crib sheet during each exam.

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

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

The tutorial portion of this offering of BISC 410 will be led by a Teaching Assistant (TA).  Because Ecological Research should be done in respectful partnership with the Indigenous communities on whose Land this research takes place, it’s important for each generation of scientists to do the self-reflection and learning necessary to approach these relationships respectfully, and with awareness of one’s own positionality, gifts, and responsibilities.  Each week, the TA will facilitate lessons and reflections to help students do this important self-decolonizing work, while also supporting your progress on one of two options for your capstone project, which you will complete in three stages: one brief presentation for feedback from your tutorial group, and two drafts of your project, with feedback from the TA in between. This work will support deeper learnings and reflect on multiple ways of knowing and doing in STEM.


  • • Lecture Participation (via in-class worksheets) 15%
  • • Tutorial Participation 5% 5%
  • • Capstone project (two options) 20%
  • • Exams (Midterm + Cumulative Final) 60%



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

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


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.