Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Required Readings

Paper: The final paper constitutes the majority of the grade for this course. All of the readings and interactions in this class are intended to help students focus their understanding of human ethology, and how it fits with their paper topics.

Overview of the Class: Session 1

Below is an outline for the first session. Please do the following:

  • Review the book list: How many of these authors/books have you read/seen/heard of? Which books which you own or have read would you add?
  • Review the topics list. We will not have time to deal with all of these topics; how we use our time will depend on both students' and instructor's interest. Additional or alternative suggestions are welcome.
  • Read the outline below, for discussion in the first two sessions.

A. How have we learned of Animals and their Behavior?

  1. Pets.
  2. Folklore. (Examples from students? The medieval beastiaries. Examples from R. Hendrikson, More Cunning Than Man: A Social History of Rats and Men, Dorset Press, N.Y., 1983.)
  3. Human oriented studies and practices: mostly uses of animals. (Economics and meat industry; sports; hunting; some religions.)
  4. Cf. sciences: mostly uses as well! (Biology; comparative psychology; pharmacology; toxicology; neuroscience)
  5. Humane society; "Animal rights" movement: human oriented in a different way. Anthropomorphism recognition and feelings ("anthropomentism", "anthropaffectism"). Regard for apparent (subjectively assessed) consciousness, in humans and other animals.
  6. Contrasting attitudes in different religions. The extremes of Judaism/Christianity, and Jainism. (Other examples?)
  7. Arguably better: basic science approach -- both descriptive and experimental, and with the perspective of evolution.

B. Topics List (Handout):

  1. Rationale.
  2. Levels of treatment? (Ask re backgrounds.)
  3. Time needed!
  4. Special topics seminar level vs. undergraduate survey level.

C. Readings:

  1. List of books for selected readings (handout): Note relative importance.
  2. Amount? approx. 10-20 pp/hr x 9 hr = 90-180 pp/wk.
  3. Approach: Read for key concepts and their illustration in actual examples. (I pay for animal stories!)
  4. (Story: How we paid M. Murphy for hamster genes.)
  5. Assignment for next session: Selections from K. Lorenz, The Foundations of Ethology, pp. 1-12, 28-32, 46-64, (72-89), 89-93, (93-99), 100-103, 107-152. Cf. his stories (extra credit): King Solomon's Ring, The Year of the Greylag Goose. Cf. N. Tinbergen's Curious Naturalists.

D. Session Plan:

  1. Lecture/discussion of key concepts in readings (required).
  2. Student presentations of papers or small topic areas. (Today: you tell me what you already know about animals, and how you learned it.)

E. Requirements:

  1. The readings and short presentations.
  2. Project paper and presentation at end of term. (Discuss your chosen topic with G. S.)
  3. For session 1: Read the story: "Four hours in the life of a Syrian hamster", with commentary.

F. Approaches to the study of animal behavior:

  1. Focus on the Individual Organism
    1. "Comparative Psychology" in America: The real focus was/is on man.
      Notes on non-biological comparisons, "homologies", "phylogenetic scale".
    2. "Ethology"; some people now prefer "behavioral ecology".
      1. Definition by K. Lorenz: see The Foundations of Ethology, p. 1, 3, 65, 101.
      2. Whitman and Heinroth.
        Stories from Lorenz: p. 100, 107.
      3. Cf. Charles Darwin
        Illustrations from his book.
      4. "Human ethology" of Eibl-Eibesfeldt (see K. L., pp. 10-11).
        The "body language" craze.
      5. "Neuroethology"-- an approach that goes two ways:
        1. Ethology informs brain & behavior studies.
        2. Brain manipulation effects --> new info. on behavioral organization.
          Examples: multiple kinds of aggression; evidence of primitive vs. advanced behavioral elements (spinal/brainstem vs. forebrain localization).
  2. Focus on Societies
    1. "Sociobiology": E. O. Wilson's definition and diagram: See Sociobiology, The Abridged Edition, pp. 3-5.
    2. Cf. human sociology. Notes from E. O. Wilson, Ibid., p. 4.
  3. Focus on Habitat and the Species it Supports, and Interactions ("Balance")
    1. "Ecology": E.g., Tropical rainforest (see Tropical Nature, by A. Forsyth and K. Miyata ), Tropical savannah, etc.
    2. The problem of breadth: Knowing too little about everything. Hence, people often think of ecology as focused on conservation. But there are good examples of ecology as a science that includes animal behavior: See Bourliere's book.
    3. When the behavior of animals becomes critical: "Upsetting the balance of nature." Examples: African elephants and the acacia trees. Man's hunting, pollution effects, pleasures that encourage poaching. "Killer" bees. etc.
  4. Focus on Single Species or Groups of Species in a Broad Way that Includes Ecology and Behavior.
    1. "Mammology". Note Bourliere's books, one older, one recent. Note contents; examples.
    2. "Primatology", "cetology", "entymology", etc.
  5. The amateur "naturalists": The disciplined hobbyist's contributions. (Cf. astronomy.) Details, when amassed, have been important in the development of ideas about behavioral evolution.

    See Lorenz's comments about the contributions of amateur ornithologists -- bird watchers -- to early ethology. Also, Jim Corbett's stories (Jungle Lore, Oxford Univ. Press, 1953): Examples from the life of a hunter who cared about animals.