SubjectsSubjects(version: 945)
Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Ethology and sociobiology for teachers - MB170P107U
Title: Etologie a sociobiologie pro učitele
Czech title: Etologie a sociobiologie pro učitele
Guaranteed by: Department of Zoology (31-170)
Faculty: Faculty of Science
Actual: from 2019
Semester: winter
E-Credits: 4
Examination process: winter s.:oral
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:3/0, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unlimited
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: Czech
Note: enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: prof. RNDr. Daniel Frynta, Ph.D.
doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D.
Teacher(s): doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D.
RNDr. Petra Frýdlová, Ph.D.
prof. RNDr. Daniel Frynta, Ph.D.
doc. RNDr. Roman Fuchs, CSc.
RNDr. Eva Landová, Ph.D.
Incompatibility : MB170P107
Annotation -
Last update: doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D. (24.10.2019)
TThe course of Ethology and Sociobiology introduces students to the basic concepts of classical ethology, sociobiology and behavioural ecology, and related fields of studies of animal behaviour. After a brief introduction about the history of the discipline, basic concepts and their founders, the lecture focuses on the meaning of the concrete behaviour and the the mechanisms of innate instinctive behavioural responses and heritability of behavioural traits. Topics concerning sociobiology and behavioural ecology are arranged according to the three areas of life: 1) positive area (social behaviour, living in a group, cooperation, altruism, eusociality), 2) negative area (aggression, territoriality and conflict) and 3) sexual interactions (social systems, mate choice, parental behaviour). Optimality theories and models, such as optimal foraging theory, optimal territory size and optimal group size will be discussed in these contexts. Important part of the course is focused on basic concepts of learning (imprinting and song learning in birds, classical and operant conditioning, discrimination learning, aversion learning, insight learning, and observation learning). Another topics includespatial orientation and navigation, antipredatory strategies, perceptual and cognitive mechanisms of prey detection and recognition in predators, and concepts of animal personalities and behavioural syndromes.
Literature -
Last update: doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D. (24.10.2019)

Veselovský Z. 2005: Etologie. Biologie chování zvířat. Academia

Krebs J.R. & Davies N.B. 2004: An introduction to behavioural ecology. Third edition. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 420 pp (vybrané kapitoly na Moodlu).

Davies N.B., Krebs J.R. & West S.A. 2012: An introduction to behavioural ecology. Fourth edition. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications, 506 pp (vybrané kapitoly na Moodlu).

Každoročně aktualizované vybrané odborné publikace jsou po přihlášení k dispozici na Moodle (

Requirements to the exam -
Last update: doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D. (24.10.2019)

The course is completed by an oral exam, which proves the knowledge gained during the lectures.

Syllabus -
Last update: doc. Mgr. Alice Exnerová, Ph.D. (24.10.2019)

A list of topics for lectures of Ethology and Sociobiology. Their number and order  does not correspond to the number of consecutive lectures.

1. Introduction, history and theory of the discipline

Ethology, zoopsychology, behavioural ecology, sociobiology, behavioural sciences, proximate and ultimate causes of behaviour, four Tinbergen's questions

2. Behavioural genetics

Ontogenetic factors, innate versus acquired behaviour, experiments testing heritability of behavioural traits, mechanisms of inheritance of behaviour.

3. Advantages of sociality, reciprocal altruism and cooperation

Aggregation as antipredatory strategy. Prisoner's dilemma and similar games. Fate of altruistic mutation. Reciprocal altruism and conditions required for its persistence.  Other types of cooperation.

4. Kin altruism, helpers and family, eusociality

Hamilton's rule, coefficients of relatedness, alarm signals, helping, family and its stability in animals. Social systems in ants, wasps, termites, and eusocial mammals. Theories explaining evolution of eusociality.

5. Infanticide, siblicide and conflict of interests between relatives

Infanticide in langurs, lions and rodents. Siblicide, asynchronous hatching in birds. Parental investment and parental care. Evolution of parental care. Parent-offspring conflict.

6.-7. Aggression, territoriality, and conflict

Defining aggression. Genetic and physiological regulation of aggression. Conflict, territoriality, and hierarchy.Evolutionary stable strategies. Signals and communication.

8. Mating systems, promiscuity, lek

Roles of males and females, sperm competition, promiscuity and its causes, advantages of multiple mating,

9. Polygyny, monogamy, and extrapair paternity. Polyandry and conflict between sexes

Models explaining polygyny, monogamy and paternal investment, correlates of extrapair paternity. Tropical birds. Dunnock as an example of polyandry. Conflict between males and females.

10. Classical ethology

Inherited behavioural patterns, Lorenz, Tinbergen and von Frisch. Innate versus learned.

11. Learning

Associative learning, insight learning, play, aversive learning, taste aversion, imprinting, song learning, spatial cognition, imitation, tradition.

12. Personality in animals

Concepts of personality in animals, behavioural syndromes, heritability and environmental influence, ontogeny, stability, and repeatability.

13.Antipredatory strategies and predator behaviour

Camouflage, aposematism, mimicry, and other antipredatory strategies; perceptual and cognitive abilities of predators; searching mechanisms; predator reactions to prey warning signals; avoidance learning; recognition and generalization of warning signals.

14. Antipredatory behaviour

Behavioural strategies reducing the risk of predation.

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