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NEW : Behavioral ecology

Download 2023-2024 planning

Master in Life Sciences, ENS
BIO_M2_E48 | Behavioral ecology
Year and Semester : M2 | S1
Where : ENS, Biology department
Duration : 30 hours
Maximum class size : 20 students
This course is open to external students. Contact


Jean-François, Le Galliard, (Département de biologie, CEREEP-Ecotron IleDeFrance et CNRS, UMR 7618, iEES Paris)




Behavioral ecology | cooperation | sexual selection | habitat choice | ethology | communication | cultural evolution

Course Prerequisites

The targeted audience is advanced undergraduates and graduate students in ecology, evolutionary biology, ethology and cognitive science or related fields, with experience and a strong interest in animal behavior. Participants trained in other fields are welcome provided they had exposure to basic notions of population ecology, evolutionary biology and ethology.

Course objectives and description

Behavioral ecology is a scientific discipline interested in describing patterns of natural variation in animal behavior and understanding proximate and ultimate causal mechanisms of behavioral variation among individuals, populations and species. This discipline is based on the scientific and methodological foundations of ethology, the science of behavior, and uses observation, experimentation and mathematical modeling approaches in evolutionary biology to understand animal behavior, particularly the role of ecological interactions in the expression and evolution of behavior.
Aims and themes : This course will introduce the basic concepts and methods of behavioral ecology (characterization of animal behaviors and ethology, concepts and methods in analysis of animal communication, proximal and ultimate causes of animal behavior, optimization and game theory). This general framework will be applied to the study of different types of animal behaviors such as cooperation and conflict, sexual selection, dispersal and habitat selection, communication and cultural evolution, and global change ecology. One session will be dedicated to practical work on behavioral data.

Organisation:This is an intense week-long course with lectures and a practical session.


Student evaluation is based on a synthesis and presentation of a research article.

Course material

Online presentations, articles, and textbook readings will be made available to enrolled students. Enrolled students are encouraged to check access to course site and course material on Moodle prior to the start of the training week.

Suggested reading in relationship with the module content

• Danchin, E. G., Giraldeau, L. A., & Cézilly, F. (2008). Behavioural ecology (p. 872). Oxford University Press.
• Davies, N. B., Krebs, J. R., & West, S. A. (2012). An introduction to behavioural ecology. John Wiley & Sons.
• Piersma, T., & Van Gils, J. A. (2011). The flexible phenotype : a body-centred integration of ecology, physiology, and behaviour. Oxford University Press.