Field Animal Behavior

Course Dates

June 16, 2021 to June 30, 2021


One semester of college level biology or equivalent.

Equivalent Note

Cornell students: this course is crosslisted as BIONB 3290.

Cornell students, this course fulfills the following requirements:

Course Description

Photo of a Shoals student in the field on Appledore Island (by Sarah MacLean).

SML student studying nesting gull behavior.

This course focuses on the study of behaviors of coastal organisms in an ecological context, with emphasis on research methods. Lectures and readings address the major subareas of animal behavior: communication, awareness, orientation and navigation, sociality, foraging, predator avoidance, and the sensory mechanisms that underlie these behaviors. In the second week of the course, each student receives training in proposal writing and study design, culminating in short-term independent research projects focused on areas of individual interest within the field of animal behavior.

Learning objectives and outcomes for this course include:

  • Understand the scientific process as applied to field and/or laboratory investigations of behavior. Demonstrate the ability to design, conduct and present an independent investigation.
  • Be able to explain the role of natural selection and the influences of predictable and unpredictable environmental change in shaping behavioral patterns.
  • Grasp the significance, and be able to provide examples, of quantitative and qualitative measures that illustrate behavioral adaptation.
  • Demonstrate critical thinking in the evaluation of scientific findings.
  • Understand similar selection pressures operate across taxa.

Internship opportunity: This course is recommended experience for SML's Seabirds & Plastic Pollution Internship.

I will recommend this course and the Shoals Marine Laboratory in general to every friend I have. This has been the single most academically influential experience of my life. - Field Animal Behavior student, 2015


Dr. Will Kimler:

Associate Professor, Department of History, North Carolina State University

Dr. Holly Nance:

Assistant Professor, College of Coastal Georgia 

Dr. Hal Weeks:

Former Assistant Director, Shoals Marine Laboratory



Course Numbers

Cornell: BIOSM 3290 (3 Credits)
UNH: MEFB 714 (4 Credits)