This is a collaborative project involving high school freshmen and three high school teachers, Kevin McNulty, Shellie Hershberger, and Kimbell Reitz, at Penn High School in Mishawaka, IN. To help students experience the excitement of field research in Kenya, students learn about the ecology and behavior of the Amboseli baboons through self-directed filmmaking projects. In 2012, Kevin McNulty came to the Amboseli Baboon Project in Kenya to collect footage, stills, and sound. Click here to see the students’ research and their latest films.
Undergraduate and graduate courses
The Evolution of Animal Behavior (BIOS 30407)
In this undergraduate-level course, we address questions such as: how do sophisticated, complex behaviors evolve in nature? What different strategies do animals use to make their way in life? And what are the similarities and differences between the behavior of humans and other organisms? The semester is organized around two themes; the first third is focused on understanding how behavioral traits evolve, with a strong emphasis the genetic basis of behavior. In the last two-thirds, we study common behavioral adaptations, including cooperative behavior, foraging, communication, and sexual selection.
Behavioral Ecology (BIOS 60552)
Research in behavioral ecology poses the basic question: what do animals gain, in terms of Darwinian fitness, by doing this rather than that. As such, behavioral ecologists are interested in understanding how behavior evolves and the fitness consequences of behavior. Our goal in this graduate level course is to understand, critique, and advance ideas and research in behavioral ecology. We will focus on nine major areas of inquiry, including measuring fitness, the genetic basis of behavior, cognition, signaling, group living, cooperation, eusociality, and sexual selection (pre- and post-copulatory).
Community Ecology (BIOS 60525)
This is a graduate level course on theory and practice in community ecology. Co-taught with Dr. Jason McLachlan, we use terrestial macro-communities and microbial communities as focal points to critically evaluate new and classic theory and empirical research. Topics include epistemology in ecology, forms of hypothesis testing, population regulation, competition, exploitation, mutualism, species coexistence, trophic interactions, and community dynamics. Students gain experience in writing grant proposals, including a 2-page pre-proposal and a 5-page full proposal, which they orally defend in class.