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Animal Ecology BIOR91

15 credits

Ostrichs in a field with mountains behind. Photo.

The central topic of the course is evolutionary theory and its ecological applications. We will focus on processes at both gene and individual level, with an emphasis on animals. 

The course is divided into different parts based on subject content. Evolutionary ecology. We start with the basics of Darwin's theory of evolution. Thereafter, we discuss central concepts such as natural and sexual selection, fitness, proximate and ultimate explanations, and speciation. Important general analytical methods to study evolutionary processes are also included, e.g. quantitative genetics, optimality- and game theory as well as comparative and allometric methods.

Ecophysiology and migration. This section highlights the importance of organism's physiological and morphological adaptations and limitations, both at ecological and evolutionary time scales. Energy metabolism, migration, locomotion, orientation and navigation, as well as morphological adaptations are concerned.

Life history strategies. This section focuses on questions about when, where, and how organisms optimally carry out different parts of their life-cycle, especially reproduction. Concepts in focus are e.g. demography, reaction norms, phenotypic plasticity, hormones, maternal effects, epigenetics, sex allocation, aging, costs of reproduction and relevant "trade-offs", as well as the importance of immune defence, parasites and diseases.

Mating systems and sexual selection. This section deals with social mating systems, extra-pair copulation, the evolutionary consequences of conflicts between the sexes and parent-offspring, as well as theories of sexual selection and mate choice. Coevolutionary processes and signals. In this section, coevolutionary processes within and between species are discussed.

Scientific methodology. This is partly integrated in the other parts of the course, but contains also specific parts, which include scientific methodology, literature project (review of articles that are carried out individually), experimental design, as well as short practical projects.

The course ends with a conference, where the students use their knowledge in evolutionary ecology, scientific methodology.

You find information about application, prerequisites and the syllabus for the course Animal Ecology at Lund University's central web pages around mid February, 2022.

Autumn period 2

Full-time, on campus, in English


You will find information about application, prerequisites and the syllabus at Lund University's central web pages. 

Course literature, 2024

Evolutionary Analysis. 5th ed (2015) Herron J.C. & Freeman S., Pearson Education. ISBN 10: 1-292-06127-8 (global Edition).


The latest schedule for the course Animal Ecology in TimeEdit.


You find the latest evaluation on our web page with course evaluations.


Lotta Persmark, Study advisor, biology and bioinformatics

Telephone: +46 46 222 37 28
EmailLotta [dot] Persmark [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se (Lotta[dot]Persmark[at]biol[dot]lu[dot]se)