…to Comparative Animal Behavior

Where you will work as a team to become proficient in the synthesis of skills required to study animal behavior scientifically.

  • Develop your awareness of, and curiosity about, the diversity of natural history and the exciting puzzles raised by the behavior of living things.

  • Gain mastery at asking and answering questions about the mechanisms and evolution of behavior by performing observations, generating hypotheses, deriving predictions, and developing tests to investigate the causes of behavior.

  • Learn to read, interpret and critically evaluate scientific discoveries communicated through the primary, peer-reviewed literature.

In 1963 when Niko Tinbergen published an essay describing Four Questions that need to be answered to explain fully a biological trait. Tinbergen’s core insight is that the questions are not alternatives, they are complementary: answers to all four are necessary for a complete biological explanation. Organizing Tinbergen’s questions makes them easier to understand. They are about two different types of questions, and two different objects of explanation. Two of the questions are about proximate mechanisms, and two are about evolution. Two of the objects of explanation are about the current trait, and two are about the sequences that result in the trait. This suggests a two-by-two table that illustrates how the questions are related.