Behavioural Ecology:
Revision Notes

Compiled as a third-year student at the University of Edinburgh, based on the information given in lectures.
General points are shown in normal font; specific examples are given in italics.


Sexual selection


Inter-sexual selection

Mixed reproductive strategies



Reciprocal altruism


Kin selection and co-operative breeding

Communal breeding

Seasonally-varying sex ratios



Eusociality in Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps)

Eusociality in Isoptera (termites)

Eusociality in mammals



Assumptions of foraging theories

Functional responses

The prey model

Marginal value theorem

Diet balancing


Why animals live in groups

Finding food as a group

Avoiding predation as a group


Predator-prey interactions

Avoiding detection by predators

Avoiding attack by predators

Arms races and co-evolution

Avoiding approach of a predator

Avoiding capture by a predator


Life histories and reproductive decision-making

Trade-off between current and future reproduction

Timing breeding to coincide with peak in food supply

Variations in parental risk-taking and investment


Role of behavioural ecology in conservation


Animal communication

Signal evolution


Social organisation

Describing social organisation

Spacing behaviour

Animal groups

Baboon societies

Social hierarchy in baboons and macaques


Practicals and self-teach work

The amorous Gammarus

Sexual dimorphism in primates

Feeding behaviour in locusts

Foraging behaviour - the disc equation



Methods of recording behaviour

Levels of measurement

Analysing differences in dependent variables measured on a numerical scale

Analysing trends

Analysing differences in dependent variables measured on a categorical scale

More notes and essays

© Andrew Gray, 2004