BIO439 Behavioural Ecology (8)

This subject provides students with an advanced knowledge of behavioural ecology. Topics covered include testing hypotheses, animal decision making, predation, competition, group living, sexual selection, parental care, mating systems, sex allocation, cooperation, altruism and communication It is assumed students have graduate level ecology as well as some exposure to doing statistical analysis because students are required to collect, analyse and write up field data in a publishable format. There is no residential school associated with this subject. On completion students are able to evaluate behavioural research critically, write up research associated with behavioural ecology, and have the potential to undertake ongoing research and study in behavioural ecology.


Session 1 (30)
Albury-Wodonga Campus

Continuing students should consult the SAL for current offering details: BIO439. Where differences exist between the Handbook and the SAL, the SAL should be taken as containing the correct subject offering details.

Subject Information

Grading System



One session


School of Environmental Sciences

Assumed Knowledge


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:
  • have in-depth knowledge about behavioural ecology
  • have specialist skills in the identification and description of behaviour
  • be able to apply their knowledge and skills as a professional so as to design a behavioural study, collect behavioural data, analyse this data and interpret the results
  • be able to communicate complex information as a professional including the ability to review the primary literature in a critical manner and write up behavioural data in a scientific format suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed publication; and the issues associated with the complexities and limitations surrounding the collection of, and publication of, behavioural data


This subject will cover the following topics:
  • Behavioural Ecology - basic concepts
  • Competition for resources: Foraging, habitat choice, managing time and energy
  • Behaviour and Reproduction: sexual selection, breeding systems
  • Social Behaviour: living in groups
  • Communication and signalling
  • Alturism and conflict
  • The effects of captivity on behaviour
  • Lessons in Life Histories

Indicative Assessment

The following table summarises the assessment tasks for the online offering of BIO439 in Session 2 2020. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated and can also differ to suit the mode of study (online or on campus).

Item Number
Value %
Ethogram and ethograph
Research proposal
Scientific paper

The information contained in the CSU Handbook was accurate at the date of publication: May 2021. The University reserves the right to vary the information at any time without notice.