Ethology - 2nd semester


Ethology, as the discipline that studies animal behavior, combines knowledge from different study areas, such as evolutionary biology, ecology, physiology, psychology or neurosciences. During our classes we will approach the study of animal and human behavior using an evolutionary and adaptive perspective and integrating knowledge from all these study areas. We will explore the complexity of the human behavior using a comparative approach with other non human systems, including other primates. There will be a strong practical component in this discipline, based on practical exercises on bapproach the behavioral data collection, analyses and discussion of scientific papers and presentation of case studies. The ultimate goal of the practical component is to provide the students with the opportunity to understand the underlying process of conducting a research project on animal behavior

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Tânia Minhós Condeço Rodrigues


Weekly - 4

Total - Available soon

Teaching language





Barret, L., Dunbar, R. & Lycett, J., 2002. Human Evolutionary Psychology. Hampshire, New York: Palgrave Publishers Cartwright, J., 2000. Evolution and Human Behavior. Cambridge, The MIT Press. Dawkins, M. S,. 2000. Compreender o comportamento Animal. Lisboa: Fim de Século. Martin, P. & P. Bateson, 1994. Measuring Behaviour: An Introductory Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ridley, M., 1995. Animal Behavior. An introduction to Behavioral Mechanisms, Development, and Ecology. Boston: Blackwell Scientific Publications. Slater, P. J. B., 1999. Essentials of Animal Behaviour. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Teaching method

The classes will be conducted following 3 formats: 1) Contents presented by the professor, always providing the opportunity for questions and discussion; 2) Analysis and discussion of scientific papers; 3) Practical assays on observation, collection, processing and analyses of behavioral data.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will be with no exam. There will be one written test covering all the taught contents and written/practical assays. Evaluation will be conducted following the criteria below: 1) Written test; 2) Attendance/participation on practical/written assays; 3) Final written assay

Subject matter

1. Natural selection, adaptation and behavior 2. Historical perspetive of ethology 3. Motivation and development of behavior 4. Evolution and function of behavior 4.1 Group vs Individual Selection 4.2 Altruism 4.3 Reproductive strategies and parental care 4.4 Evolutionary stable strategies 5. Comunication 5.1 Function 5.2 Comunication between predators and prey 5.3 Manipulation 6. Language 6.1 Language in non-humans 6.2 Function and specificities of human language 7. Human Behavior 7.1 Sexual selection and mating systems 7.2 Parental care and kinship 7.3 Cooperation and competition 7.4 Aggression 8. Animal cognition and culture 9. Methods in ethology 9.1 Observational methods 9.2 Data handling and analyses Interpretation of behavioral pattern


Programs where the course is taught: