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CODE 115368
ACADEMIC YEAR 2024/2025
CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR BIO/07
TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
SEMESTER 2° Semester

OVERVIEW

The course aims to analyse and interpret the animal behaviour through an innovative and multidisciplinary perspective, in order to give a decoding in a system view, both in the context of complex evolutionary dynamics and considering the aspects of interrelation with anthropic activities.

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The course aims to provide the basis for the analysis of animal behaviour through a holistic and evolutionary approach, considering that behaviour, as the expression of an adaptive phenomenon to the environment (in the broadest sense of the term), functional to improve the fitness of the individual.

The different components that contribute to the development and expression of behaviour will be examined through an integrated multidisciplinary approach: the genetic, physiological and neural bases of behaviour will be examined, as well as the role of experience and learning mechanisms, but also the mutual interactions between environment and behaviour, from the individual to the population level

The basic knowledge provided in the first part of the course will be preparatory to the second applicative part, that is, the study of animal behaviour for the purpose of the management and conservation of biodiversity and, more generally, the management of human-animal interactions and their ecological consequences.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

The students of the course will learn to analyse animal behaviour by framing it in an evolutionary and ecological context, referring to the considered species, and interpreting it with a systemic approach, i.e. as a component or property not isolated from the other elements of the biosphere but integrated into it.

In this process, students will learn how to consider the interactions between individual and environment in their complexity, both in terms of evolutionary process (organism-environment co-evolution), and in terms of everyday expression, considering the living and non-living environment, the relationships between conspecifics and different species.

Students will learn to distinguish the proximate causes (the physiological and neuronal mechanisms that move the individual immediately) from the ultimate ones (the advantages for the fitness of the individual) and to analyse the adaptive value of behaviour in terms of cost-benefit ratio in a competitive context.

Based on these criteria, students will be able to make hypotheses about the functional and adaptive meaning of an observed behaviour and verify them through an experimental process of analysis.

Finally, they will have to learn to use the knowledge acquired (through observation and experimentation) in the management of species for the conservation of biodviersity, evaluating the ecological consequences of different approaches in the management of the human-animal relationship.

TEACHING METHODS

The course contents will be explained through the presentation (frontal exposure with multimedia support) of case studies and scientific publications, chosen and organized in a coherent way.

The frontal lecture will make extensive use of images and videos to facilitate the understanding of the transmitted concepts and enhance the students' attention.

The course also includes a dedicated visit to the Aquarium of Genoa with a selected path to explain, with live examples, some of the concepts covered in the course.

At the end of the course, students will have to pass a practical test: they will have to formulate hypotheses about an observed behaviour and verify them through a mental experimental path.

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Introduction to animal behaviour as an adaptive phenomenon

The genetic and evolutionary bases of behaviour

Ontogenetic development of behaviour: interactions with the environment, experience and learning

The neuronal and physiological bases of behaviour

Feeding behaviour and prey – predator relationship

Principles of communication

Reproductive behaviour and parental care

Social behaviour

The study of behaviour in biodiversity management and conservation

Principles of human ethology

Human – animal relationship

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dustin R. Rubenstein e John Alcock, Zanichelli. Etologia, un approccio evolutivo

Richard Dawkins, Mondadori. Il gene egoista

Documents available on Aulaweb

 


 

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

LESSONS

LESSONS START

to be scheduled with the teacher

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy

EXAMS

EXAM DESCRIPTION

The exam will be an oral test.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

The oral exam will be aimed at verifying the acquisition of the concepts explained in class

FURTHER INFORMATION

Students who have valid certification of physical or learning disabilities on file with the University and who wish to discuss possible accommodations or other circumstances regarding lectures, coursework and exams, should speak both with the instructor and with Professor Sara Ferrando (sara.ferrando@unige.it), the Department’s disability liaison