ENT 484 Insect behavior, 3 credits
Spring semester 2018-2019, Osmond Lab 113, Tue & Thu, 10:35-11:50
Instructor: Dr. Etya Amsalem
Insects are one of the most successful and diverse taxonomic groups on the planet. Their success is attributed to the amazing range of complex behaviors they exhibit: they have mastered the abilities to find food and mate, defend themselves, invade new territories, communicate in various ways and cooperate to build highly organized societies. This course will provide a theoretical and empirical overview of insect behavior ranging from physiology and genetics underlying behavior to the evolution of behavioral diversity. We will learn how scientists study insect behavior, why do insect behave the way they do, what functions these behaviors might serve, and how behavior is shaped by the evolutionary forces of natural and sexual selection. Among the topics we will discuss are learning, memory and decision making; dominance and territorial behaviors; foraging and defending against predators; reproductive strategies and mating systems; communication, cooperative behavior, and social cognition.
This course is suitable to students looking to learn about the fascinating world of insect behavior and to students looking to do research on insect behavior.
Course evaluation is based on a combination of two exams and a research project. Students may, if they wish, integrate their research area into the research project
Major topics addressed include:
The history of behavior
Scientific ways of studying behavior
Proximate vs. ultimate: Tinbergen's four questions
The development of behavior: The nervous system
The development of behavior: The endocrine system
How genes regulate behavior?
Nature vs. Nurture
Migration and diapause
Communication: Mechanisms and Evolution
Mating and reproductive systems
Cooperative and social behavior
ENT522 Critical Thinking and Professional Development in Entomology, 4 credits
Spring Semester 2019, 504 ASI Mon & Wed 11:15-1:10
Instructors: Drs Christina Grozinger, Harland Patch, and Etya Amsalem
This required course for Entomology graduate students focuses on developing the professional skills needed for a successful career in basic or applied research. Major topics addressed include (i) effective scientific communication, (ii) the mechanisms of research funding and peer review, (iii) critical evaluation of scientific evidence and arguments, (iv) basic principles of study design, and (v) research ethics and effective collaboration. Students engage in a variety of classroom activities including lectures, discussions, and peer review of written assignments and interact with instructors possessing expertise in each of the particular subject areas addressed, as well as with guest instructors working on cutting-edge topics in insect science and related fields. The course emphasizes practical application of the material presented to students own research. Over the course of the semester, each student reviews relevant literature and develops and refines a research proposal based on their own scientific interests.
ENT530 The Evolution of Cooperation
Graduate seminar, 1 credit
Fall semester 2018, 504 ASI 11-2
Instructor: Dr. Etya Amsalem
This class will examine current topics in the evolution of cooperative behavior and altruism in animals. We will cover the main theories explaining the fundamental problem of cooperation, as well as their criticisms. Classes are a combination of lectures, student paper presentations and discussions. Each meeting will focus on a particular level at which cooperation has emerged as the result of natural selection. Covered topics may include game theory, direct and indirect benefit, inclusive fitness, group and kin selection, the super organism and the handicap principle.