Current Courses at MSU
- Zoology 415- Ecological Aspects of Behavior
- Zoology 313- Animal Behavior
- Zoology 895 - Genetics of Multidimensional Adaptation & Speciation
Past Courses at University of Wisconsin
- Zoology 957 - Speciation
- Zoology 425 - Evolution of Behavior
- Biology 151 - Introductory Biology
- Zoology 962 - Animal Communication
This course investigates how ecological factors act to shape the evolution of behavior, focusing on the influence of natural, sexual, and kin selection. The course provides the background needed to understand behavioral evolution, including the basic principles of behavioral genetics, natural selection, sexual selection, kin selection, cultural evolution, optimality, game theory & evolutionary stable strategies, and the comparative method. In the context this background provides, we study the evolution of a variety of behaviors, including communication, mate choice, parental care, mating systems, social behavior, cooperation, foraging, and anti-predator behavior. Examples are taxonomically broad and include many invertebrates and vertebrates.
This course introduces students to basic concepts and methods in the study of animal behavior. We strive for an integrative understanding of behavior, addressing questions about the mechanisms, development, evolution, and adaptive significance of behavioral traits. We consider a wide range of organisms, both vertebrate and invertebrate, and deal with a wide range of behavioral phenomena, including vision, hearing, communication, learning, navigation, foraging, territoriality, mate choice, mating systems, social behavior.
Divergent natural selection is a central process leading to adaptation and speciation in the wild. Generally, studies focus on single traits with adaptive value in novel environments. However, selection in novel environments may often be multidimensional - acting on many traits simultaneously - and this may be necessary for adaptation to novel environments and for speciation to occur. The dimensionality of selection has far-reaching implications for linking genotype to phenotype and phenotype to fitness. Recently, studies have identified the genetic basis of individual adaptive traits in natural populations and we are beginning to understand the genetic architecture of such traits. However, little is known about the genetic architecture of multidimensional adaptation and how that genetic architecture may influence evolutionary change. This cross-institution graduate seminar will explore these topics. A primary objective will be to write a joint review article synthesizing existing data and theoretical studies. We will consider published studies to develop expectations for the genetic architecture of multidimensional adaptation and also suggest research directions in systems that could lend additional insight.
Past Courses at University of Wisconsin
The study of speciation is experiencing a renaissance, as new theory & new methods allow biologists to address long standing & difficult questions on how new species arise. Rapid progress is being made in understanding Darwin's "Mystery of Mysteries". This seminar covers theoretical and empirical work on speciation – from the development of ideas during the modern synthesis to present day work investigating the processes of speciation (natural & sexual selection, drift, chromosomal changes). We also cover topics such as reinforcement, sympatric speciation, phylogenetic approaches & genetics of speciation.
This course investigates how evolutionary processes shape behavior, focusing on the influence of natural, sexual, and kin selection. The course provides the conceptual background needed to understand behavioral evolution, and applies this to understanding important and current topics in animal behavior. I emphasize theoretical principles, design of experiments, and interpretation of data. The discussion teaches students to read and evaluate the primary literature in animal behavior; developing critical thinking skills that will apply broadly throughout their undergraduate careers and beyond.
I teach the section on evolution in this team-taught course. I develop the conceptual basis of evolutionary biology, focusing on the processes that give rise to diverse adaptations and new species and investigated evolutionary principles important in modern society (e.g., disease resistance & parasite evolution). I also cover the diversity of life, focusing on phylogenetic relationships and the evolution of major adaptations that allowed further diversification.
Zoology 962, Animal Communication, 2 credit graduate seminar, co-taught with Chuck Snowdon in Fall 2006
The study of animal communication has a long and rich history, and has been addressed from diverse perspectives. In this seminar we weave together cognitive, physiological, and evolutionary perspectives to give students a broad understanding of the various influences on the way that animals communicate.
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