DUE by 11 PM on May 16 2022


Create a media project (written, audio, video, etc) that summarizes the current scientific understanding of a specific animal behavior (applying a comparative approach to include consideration of convergence and divergence). These summaries include information relating to each of the four areas of animal behavior as outlined by Tinbergen (1963): ontogeny, mechanism, phylogeny and adaptive value. Because some model organisms are more suited to specific types of research, your work will likely incorporate research from multiple organisms in order to discuss the specific animal behavior. Books, websites, and newspapers may be used, but try to support your information primarily through primary literature.

Include figure(s) for each major level of analysis that enhance the accessibility of your work. Examples include: phylogenetic trees with annotated analysis, graphical representations of evolutionary models, key neural mechanisms, cartoon developmental trajectories, etc.

Target your presentation to an audience with a basic biology background, but without your (or my) expertise in the study of animal behavior.

The expectation and requirements are that the explanations you provide at each level of analysis are logical, incorporate course concepts from classroom sessions and readings, and are appropriate for the level of analysis at hand (phylogenetic, evolutionary, genetic/neural, developmental/hormonal). To complete all 4 levels of analysis, you will likely need to go beyond what is known about your specific animal of interest and even make logical leaps that use course concepts to formulate hypotheses about explanations for the behavior at each level.

Format Options

  • Written (you can get creative with style - pop sci versus technical lit review - whatever style you use, make it engaging) – no more than 2-3 pages single-spaced with 1-inch margins - page limit does not include figures and captions. (think about it being no more than 15 minutes if you were to clearly and slowly read the paper aloud).

  • Audio (think engaging podcast style) – no more than 15 min (with the submission, attach figures with captions that enhance the accessibility of information in your work… think about these as things that would be linked in the shownotes of a podcast)

  • Video (think educational outreach video style) – no more than 15 min (incorporate images that enhance the accessibility of information in your work)

  • A Live Theatrical Play (incorporate images that enhance the accessibility of information in your work)

  • Other (see me to discuss)

Regardless of your project format, upload a PDF to Gradescope (if not a PDF of your written work, make a PDF with a description of where your work can be found).

Some example work
There are sooooooo many ways to appropriately approach this assignment. So having “example” work does not ring true to the goals of this project. Each of you will approach this in a slightly different way, the topics are so diverse, each of your personalities is so different. So keep that all in mind when working on your own project. In figuring out what to include, you should be guided by the fundamental goal of understanding a behavior that you are interested in from a comparative perspective and at all 4 levels of analysis that we have covered in class (Tinbergen’s 4). You need to communicate this understanding clearly, logically, and completely (as complete as possible while still being clear).

There are things that could be improved with these submissions. So in seeing them as examples, use your judgement).

Reference Formatting
Please follow the style below in the published edition of Nature in preparing reference lists.

  • In written work, authors should be listed surname first, followed by a comma and initials of given names.
    In non-written format, verbally reference the original work that you are using to make your arguments (in a fluid way) and include a separate written references document.

  • Titles of all cited articles are required. Titles of articles cited in reference lists should be in upright, not italic text; the first word of the title is capitalized, the title written exactly as it appears in the work cited, ending with a full stop. Book titles are italic with all main words capitalized. Journal titles are italic and abbreviated according to common usage. Volume numbers are bold. The publisher and city of publication are required for books cited. (Refer to published papers in Nature for details.)

  • Research datasets may be cited in the reference list if they have been assigned digital object identifiers (DOIs) and include authors, title, publisher (repository name), identifier (DOI expressed as a URL). Example: Hao, Z., AghaKouchak, A., Nakhjiri, N. & Farahmand, A. Global Integrated Drought Monitoring and Prediction System (GIDMaPS) data sets. figshare (2014).

  • Recognized preprints may be cited in the reference list. Example: Babichev, S. A., Ries, J. & Lvovsky, A. I. Quantum scissors: teleportation of single-mode optical states by means of a nonlocal single photon. Preprint at (2002).

  • References to web-only journals should give authors, article title and journal name as above, followed by URL in full - or DOI if known - and the year of publication in parentheses. References to websites should give authors if known, title of cited page, URL in full, and year of posting in parentheses.

Grading In general, you can refer to the following general guidelines to gauge your expected grade for your work:

  • “F” work results from minimal effort. Fails to complete the assignment or does minimal job at addressing the goals of the assignment.

  • “D” work shows insufficient levels of understanding. With no effort to remedy misunderstandings. Writing and presentation of material is disorganized and unclear and/or incomplete. At least lists the required information to describe the behavior using Tinbergen’s 4 questions and a cross- or within-species comparison.

  • “C” work shows a basic level of understanding. The bare minimum required has been addressed, but there is minimal effort toward personal exploration of the material. Work generally contains errors and is kind of disorganized, even though correct elements are included. Hits on a basic description of the behavior based on Tinbergen’s levels of analysis and/or a cross-species comparison. Lacks much additional synthesis of information or concepts. Lacks fluid prose. Major organizational or logical issues.

  • “B” work shows a very good understanding of the concepts and demonstrates logical thinking. Not much independent synthesis and extension of the material beyond what was directly discussed in class. Addresses all of Tinbergen’s levels of analysis and compares behavior across species. A reasonable attempt at synthesis of information to pose an argument/explanation for the behavior. Some minor organizational issues. Some minor logical issues. Does a thorough job at including all of the component parts to the assignment, but does so by ‘checking the boxes’ rather than integrating and organizing the material in an engaging way.

  • “A” work shows excellent grasp of the concepts and the importance of the topic and demonstrates clear logical thinking and reasoning. Writing and presentation of material is clear and concise and grabs the reader’s attention. It stimulates the reader to learn more to enhance their understanding of the subject. Information is used synthetically to make one or more original connections with/among course topics. Creatively and thoroughly engages with the analysis in a concise way. Uses engaging prose/rhetoric to include all of the assignment components rather than listing them. Addresses all of Tinbergen’s levels of analysis by integrating material from throughout the semester. Uses both the text and additional resources to provide a useful comparative explanation of the behavior. Includes original hypotheses to extend beyond what is known. Clear grammar (written or spoken) and presents material in a logically organized manner.