Evolutionary Ecology
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Teaching Dingemanse

Summer Semester


Contemporary Behavioural Ecology (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse (coordinator) and Cristina Tuni

In this seminar, students will be introduced to multiple timely topics in behavioral ecology, e.g., life-history evolution in a changing world. Following an online introductory lecture, groups of students choose a topic related to the lecture (e.g., life-history evolution and urbanization, or life-history evolution and pace-of-life syndromes), search for, and read 5-10 papers on the topic in preparation of a 30-min meeting with the lecturer one week later, and then prepare an authoritative 15 min presentation in the third week of the course, that will be given online. This cycle repeats itself, resulting in exposure to and discussion of multiple contemporary topics in behavioral ecology.

Students thereby learn how to acquire an authoritative overview of research fields of interest by means of literature search, critical discussion of papers, identification of outstanding research questions, and summarizing research by means of an oral presentation. While the topic is behavioral ecology, the acquired skills should be broadly applicable.

Experimental Behavioural Ecology (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse (coordinator) and Cristina Tuni

The experimental behavioural ecology course concentrates on study design and how to collect unbiased and interpretable data in the field of behavioural ecology. The course consists of nine days (Wednesday – Friday for three weeks in a row, in June or July depending on the year. Two topics are addressed in the first six days (three days each), both requiring extensive data collection either in the field or in the laboratory. The 7th day is used for data analyses, the 8th day for preparation of a final presentation given on the 9th day.

Students can sign up by emailing the coordinator (n.dingemanse@lmu.de).

EES-Alpine Excursion and Seminar (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse, Herwig Stibor and Maria Stockenreiter (coordinator)


In the second semester, students are able to go on an excursion. The goal of this excursion is to provide students with a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to a habitat (e.g., high alpine valleys). It will include small field projects followed by a thorough statistical analysis of the data. Zoological, botanical and fungal systematics, ecology and human impact will be taught concurrently to give a comprehensive understanding of the ecological selection pressures and evolutionary interactions between species. After an introduction to the selected habitat, students will work in groups on small research questions. The collected data will be analysed statistically following the excursion. In short talks, students will present the results of their small research projects and will put their different projects into context.


Research Course Ecology/Zoology (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse and Cristina Tuni (coordinators Behavioural Ecology projects)

Students will conduct a research project throughout the semester (10-13 weeks) with the possibility of designing a personalized work schedule (e.g., number of hours per day), with the opportunity of developing their own research question. They will be involved in all aspects of our research (e.g. nest box breeding birds, spiders, crickets, lab or field), from experimental planning to data collection, analyzing data and interpreting results, and presenting their findings either orally or in written form.

Students who successfully complete the research course want to learn hypothesis testing, how to design and execute experimental work, animal rearing and handling, and a wide range of experimental skills such as behavioral assays, trait analysis (song structure, sperm quality) and tools in statistics.

Students can sign up by emailing n.dingemanse@lmu.de.

Winter Semester

Principles of Behavioural Ecology (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse (coordinator) and Cristina Tuni

Lecture course on basic principles in behavioural ecology. Course follows the structure of the Introduction to behavioural ecology by Davies, Krebs & West. Topics include mechanisms of behaviour, optic and acoustic communication, choosing where to live, foraging and optimality, sexual selection & mating systems, parental care & conflict, and altruism & cooperation.

Students can sign up by emailing the coordinator (n.dingemanse@lmu.de).


Evolutionary Ecology (MSc-level course)

Various teachers

The course description is provided here. The course consists of lectures given by staff from Evolutionary Ecology, Aquatic Ecology, and Behavioural Ecology. Our contribution focusses on the principles of behavioural ecology, introducing optimality approaches and the concept of trade-offs to explain variation in behaviour and life-history from an adaptive perspective. These principles are applied to understand life-history variation, optimal foraging strategies, mating strategies, parental care and conflict, and predator-prey interactions.

Seminar & Discussion III: Hot topics in Evolution, Ecology & Systematics (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse and Dirk Metzler (coordinators)

Students learn how to acquire an authoritative overview of research fields of interest by means of literature search, critical discussion of papers, identification of outstanding research questions, summarizing research by means of an oral presentation, and will learn to lead and participate in scientific discussions.

Groups of two students will choose a topic in ecology or evolution, read 5-10 papers on the topic, discuss the topic with the lecturer one week later, and prepare a 30-min presentation again one week later. Another group of two students will survey the topic prior to the presentation, and prepare 5-10 questions as opponents. One group will present each course day. Each day, a third group is allocated to chairing each session.

Two hours are allocated for the course every week throughout the semester. The daily structure will be that one hour will be allocated to the presentation (30 mins) plus discussion (15 mins) plus feedback (15 mins). Afterwards, 45-mins will be allocated for the lecturer to discuss and provide feedback to group presenting next week.


Research Course Ecology/Zoology (MSc-level course)

Niels Dingemanse and Cristina Tuni (coordinators Behavioural Ecology projects)

Students will conduct a research project throughout the semester (10-13 weeks) with the possibility of designing a personalized work schedule (e.g., number of hours per day), with the opportunity of developing their own research question. They will be involved in all aspects of our research (e.g. nest box breeding birds, spiders, crickets, lab or field), from experimental planning to data collection, analyzing data and interpreting results, and presenting their findings either orally or in written form.

Students who successfully complete the research course want to learn hypothesis testing, how to design and execute experimental work, animal rearing and handling, and a wide range of experimental skills such as behavioral assays, trait analysis (song structure, sperm quality) and tools in statistics.

Students can sign up by emailing n.dingemanse@lmu.de.