BIOL-F4001 Behavioral Ecology in a man-made environment

Behavioural Ecology in natural and man-made environment
BIOL – F4001
I. General information
Title of the teaching unit *
Course language * Taught in English
Level of the qualification framework * Niveau 7 (2e cycle-MA/MC/MA60)
Discipline * Biological sciences
Lecturer(s)* [including the coordinator] * Claire DETRAIN (coordonnateur)
II. Location of the course
Co-required teaching unit(s) *
Pre‐required teaching unit(s) *
Pre‐required knowledge and skills * Bachelor level (or equivalent) in Biology
Study programme(s) featuring the teaching unit – CEPULB – Conseil de l’Éducation Permanente de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles (5 crédits, obligatoire)
– M-BIORA – Master en biologie des organismes et écologie, à finalité approfondie (5 crédits, optionnel)
– M-BIORM – Master en Biologie des Organismes et Ecologie, à finalité Erasmus Mundus Masters Course in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (Tropimundo) (5 crédits, optionnel)
– M-IRBAS – Master en bioingénieur : sciences agronomiques, à finalité spécialisée (5 crédits, optionnel)
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III. Objectives and methodologies
Contribution of the teaching unit to the programme profile *
Objectives of the teaching unit (and/or specific learning outcomes) *  

1°)To get an overwiew of main concepts and current trends in behavioural ecology.

(2) To understand the ultimate and proximate causes driving the behaviour of animal species in their natural environment

(3) To detail the different types of learning, their characteristics as well as their applications to the management of wild and domestic species

(4) To familiarize students with the behavior and the specificities of domestic animals  (5°)  to draw attention to changes in man-animal relationships,  in perception of animal welfare and in the use of associated scientific tools.

As regards the learning outcomes, the student will be able to discuss the mechanisms and constraints that impact the behavioral strategies of animals in natural and domestic populations and to provide solutions for their management.

Contents of the teaching unit *  

Historical background and main trends in Behavioural Ecology.

Analysis of foraging and habitat selection within a behavioural ecology perspective.

Behavioural strategies of anti-predation.

Sensory channels, perception and information management.

Learning processes and their applications.

Social structure and hierarchy.

Domestication and animal welfare.


Teaching method and learning activities * lecture

Annual workshop on a topics collectively chosen by the students.  During this workshop, the students make an oral presentation (in English) based on a collective bibliographic research

Essential course materials * No
Other course materials Slides available on ULB website
References, bibliography and recommended reading * Visual Support. Copies of powerpoint slides

Lecture notes and scientific papers

Alcock 2013. Animal Behaviour (10th Edition), Sinauer

Danchin et al. Behavioural Ecology. Oxford University Press

IV. Assessment
Method(s) of assessment * Oral exam (75%)

Oral exam with a written preparation of two main questions based 1°) on a slide  and 2°) on a scientific topic covered during the lectures. Starting from the two main questions, the examination will cover other parts of the course to assess the ability of the student to get an integrated overview of the course

Bibliographic research and presentation during the workshop (25%)

The relevance of the bibliographic research and the quality of its oral presentation will be evaluated during the annual workshop


Construction of the mark (including the weighting of the various partial marks) * 75% oral exam

25% bibliographic research and presentation

Assessment language * English or French for the oral exam

English for the oral presentation during the workshop

V. Practical organisation
Organising institution * ULB
Managing faculty * Sciences
Four‐month period * Premier quadrimestre (NRE : 39227)
Schedule * Premier quadrimestre
Schedule volume
VI. Educational coordination
Contact * Pr Claire Detrain Batiment NO niveau 5 local 213 Campus de la Plaine
Teaching location *
VII. Other information relating to the teaching unit
Notes The participation to the bibliographic research work  is compulsory since this work is included in the final evaluation.  In particular, , all students must attend  the  workshop that is organized at the end of the course