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Courses Offered

ENY 4455C



Social insects are master architects, pollinators, and undertakers.  Their nests can tower over elephants or fit in the palm of your hand. Millions of years ago social insects invented paper, weaving, and agriculture, and today they dominate most terrestrial ecosystems. In this course, students will examine the global diversity of insect societies, and the behavioral innovations that led to their ecological success. Field and laboratory exercises will introduce students to key methods in chemical ecology, behavioral physiology, and sociometry. Lectures and discussions will focus on historic debates in the field, major evolutionary transitions, division of labor, communication, collective behavior, and the mechanisms employed by diverse parasites that exploit insect social systems. In addition, Graduate students will read and discuss primary literature, lead discussion groups, analyze class data collected in lab, and prepare short lectures on current topics in the field of social insect behavior. Major taxa covered will include eusocial termites, wasps, ants, bees, and beetles.

Offered fall semester

Upper-level undergrad, Graduate

ZOO 4272


ORNITHOLOGY (3-credits)


Comprehensive course on bird biology covering global diversity, evolution and systematics, anatomy, physiology, behavior, and ecology. Through a combination of lectures and hands-on activities, this course will explore the evolution of bird feathers, bones, and beaks, as well as the incredible migrations, songs, social lives, and symbioses of birds. Students will build on a foundation of taxonomic knowledge to appreciate the global diversity of birds and the special adaptations that have allowed them to conquer land, sea, and sky.

Offered spring semester



ENTOMOLOGY (3-credits)

This course explores insect diversity, evolution, and behavior. Insects are pollinators, undertakers, and parasites. This course emphasizes comparative natural history and experimentation as the foundation of innovations in entomology. Students will develop a solid understanding of the principles of insect biology that can be applied to medical, forensic, veterinary, agricultural, conservation and academic fields.



This laboratory focuses on insect classification, development and behavior. Students will travel to local field sites to study and collect insects. Each student will curate a professional insect collection and develop a working knowledge of insect taxonomy through dissection and comparison of preserved specimens, including economically and medically important insects. Students will also rear a variety of social and solitary insects under experimental conditions and report their results. Labs on behavior focus on insect communication, parental care, eusociality, and orientation.



Animals learn songs, practice agriculture, and craft tools. They build elaborate structures without a blueprint and migrate across the globe without a map. This course explores the mechanistic and evolutionary causes of animal behavior, A combination of lectures, discussions, and animal demos will introduce students to major themes in the field, while emphasizing experiments and ecological context as fundamental to the study of behavior. Students will discuss historic debates and emerging research on the evolution of exaggerated sexual ornaments and defensive structures, sensory bias, heritability of behavior, reciprocity & kinship, and the emergence of animal societies. By the end of the course, students will be able to interpret the behaviors of animals in an evolutionary framework. Students from other departments, including Psychology, and Environmental Science can join this course with instructor permission.



This course instructs students in developing effective writing and speaking skills required for preparation of scientific manuscripts and presentations, and communicating in the scientific world. Students will be required to prepare and present oral presentations and to submit written reports.

*Instructor focus is on major evolutionary transitions

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