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 - 168

Teaching language





Alcock, J., 2005. Animal Behavior. An Evolutionary Approach. 8th Ed. Sunderland, Mass, Sinauer Ass.
Buss, D. M., 2004. Evolutionary Psychology. The new science of the mind. 2nd Ed. Boston, Allyn and Bacon.
Cartwright, J., 2000. Evolution and Human Behavior. Cambridge, The MIT Press.
Cronk, L., Chagnon, N. & Irons, W., 2000. Adaptation and Human Behavior: an anthropological perspective. New York, Aldine de Gruyter.
Dawkins, M. S. 2000. Compreender o comportamento Animal. 2ª Ed. Lisboa, Fim de Século.
Hinde, R. A., 1974. Biological bases of human social behaviour. New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company.
Manning, A., 1979. An introduction to animal behaviour. 3rd edition. London, Edward Arnold.
Martin, P. & Bateson, P., 1994. Measuring Behaviour: an introductory guide. 2nd Ed. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
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

1) Written test; 2) Attendance/participation on practical/written assays; 3) Final written assay(100%)

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: