BEHAVIORAL BIOLOGY Spring 2014             Dr. Joanna Burger

Tues 10:20am -11:40am (RC-2)                                  Nelson Hall B 218

         12:00pm -1:20pm (RC-2)                                  732 445 4318

Thurs 12:00pm -1:20pm (RC-2)                                  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Overall Goal:

To have a basic understanding of the function, biological significance, causation and evolution of animal behavior.


Learning Goals

  1. To understand basic areas of animal behavior, particularly as they relate to the biological and ecological basis, focusing mainly on animals in the wild.
  2. To be able to objectively understand and evaluate information about animal behavior and ecology encountered in our daily lives.
  3. To understand and be able to objectively evaluate the role of behavior in the protection and conservation of animals in the wild.
  4. To consider and evaluate behavior of all animals, including humans, in the complex ecological world, including the urban environment.
  5. To conduct a behavioral study.


Overall Approach

  1. Lectures
  2. Movies that depict specific behavior or behavioral ecology of individual species, groups of species, or species within their ecosystems.
  3. Term papers which, over the years, have included behavioral observations of animals in the wild, observations of humans as surrogates, review of animal behavior from a range of books, evaluation of a behavioral topic using my naturalists books (Pine Barrens or Jersey shore animals).
  4. Course includes lecture + lab, arranged to facilitate the work (i.e. sometimes lectures are during the lab period, and sometimes labs are in the lecture period, depending upon the time required).


Cuvier                         Alexander      St. Hilaire                   Trivers

Mill                             Krebs              Flourens                     Emlen

Spencer                      Wilson            Darwin                       Lovejoy

Pavlov                         Mock              Sechenov                    Goodall

Ebbinghaus                Fossey             Thorndike                  Goldikas

Marler                        Watson           Mayr                           Skinner

HullHertheimer         Kobler            Koffka                        Huxley

Heinroth                     Whitman        Craig                          Howard

Lorenz                        Tinbergen      Von Frisch                 Lehrman

Beach                          Thorpe           Dilger



BEHAVIORAL BIOLOGY Spring 2014                                                   Dr. Joanna Burger

Tues 10:20am -11:40am, 12:00pm -1:20pm (RC-2)                          Nelson Hall B 218

Thurs 12:00pm -1:20pm (RC-2)                                                                      732 445 4318                                                                                                                          This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


TEXT: J. Alcock – Animal Behavior (7th or 8th edition) and J. Burger - A Naturalist Along the Jersey Shore





21-23 January

Chapter 1

Introduction to course; goals, assignments, grades. What is ethology, why study ethology, what kinds of questions do ethologists ask?

28 Jan

Chapter 2

Example of Field Work (M. Allen)

30 January- 6 February

Chapter 3 (part)

History of ethology from Egyptian depictions of behavior to the present

Methodologies of study of behavior, experimentation, biases.

4 February

Double Lab


11 February

Survey Due

Complex behavior; learning

13 February

Review; Book report directions


18 February

Exam 1


20, 25 February

Chapter 8 (part)

Double lecture

Aggression and dominance, pecking orders, territoriality.

Term Paper Directions

27 Feb



4, 6 March

Literature Review (M. Allen)



Chapter 2

Double Lecture

Displays and communication

Approval of Term Paper Topic

13 March

Exam 2


16-22 March

Spring Break


25 to 3 April

Field work

Meet 25 March at beginning of class for consultation

1, 3 April

Field work

Meet 1 April at beginning of class for consultation

8, 10 April

Chapter 6,9

Message-meaning analysis; navigation/orientation

15, 17 April

Chapter 3


17 April


Social organization

21, 23 April

Chapter 6, 13

Social Organization, Animals in groups

29 April

Chapter 4, 5

Biological Clock, Endocrine Disruptors

1 May



6 May

Exam 3



COURSE GRADES – Grade point average whereby 90+ = A; 80-89 = B, 70-79 = C; below = D




Points on Exam 1 (around 100 points)                      Book Report (100 points)

Points on Exam 2 (around 100 points)                      Term Paper (200 points)

Points on Exam 3 (around 100 points)                      Survey (50 points)

Grade is average of points earned divided by total points (about 650). NO EXTRA CREDIT.