Biology investigates structure and function in the living world and considers how those structures and functions are adapted to specific environments. It studies life at all levels of organization, from the molecular to the total ecosystem. The questions biology addresses bear directly upon many of the problems that confront human society, as well as other organisms and environments that make up the biosphere. A biological perspective provides gratifying insight about the position, role, and uniqueness of humans as organisms within the interactive living world. There is an undeniable beauty and elegance in the living world; biology studies the mechanisms and principles upon which that beauty is elaborated.

This course examines proximate and ultimate explanations for behavior and considers both pure and applied research. Topics include the evolution of behavior, domestication, learning, neuroethology, foraging behavior, game theory, territoriality and fighting, mate choice and sexual selection, parental care, kin selection, and altruism.


Ecology is the scientific study of the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms.  During this course we will gain an understanding of many kinds of interactions, both biotic and abiotic, that regulate ecological population size and community structure.  Ecological communities are exceedingly complex and we will also try to understand what makes those communities so complex.  We will emphasize the importance of place and past history as factors that influence current ecology.