Functional Zoology


About this course

This course addresses basic skills required for research in functional zoology and related fields. The student is introduced to a range of important experimental and modelling techniques, such as:

  • morphometry;
  • biomechanics;
  • high-speed video analysis of kinematics of moving animals;
  • analysis of stresses and strains of muscle and connective tissue;
  • measurement of work output by muscle fibres;
  • modelling the aerodynamics of animal flight.

For this work, a basic training is given in data analysis and modelling using Python as a programming environment. Previous knowledge of Python is not required.
The theoretical background is offered in the form of lectures, selected book chapters and articles.
The laboratory work consists of several mini-research projects in which questions have to be formulated, an appropriate experimental protocol has to be designed, an experiment has to be conducted, and data have to be analysed and discussed. Each student delivers a written report or oral presentations of the mini-research projects. The topics that will be addressed include:

  • muscle structure and function;
  • biomaterials and structures;
  • terrestrial locomotion;
  • aerial locomotion;
  • ecomorphology.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:

  • Use and apply the basic theoretical concepts and techniques used in current functional zoology
  • Select and apply a range of experimental techniques with appropriate practical skills
  • Execute a basic error analysis of measurements
  • Make a mechanistic analysis of animal movement systems
  • Program in Python, a state-of-the-art coding environment for numerical problems
  • Create analytical and numerical models of time-dependent movement systems in zoology
  • Judge and test the validity of numerical models with experimental outcomes
  • Design and execute mini research projects, including written and oral presentations
  • Organise their own learning processes based on reflection upon the acquisition of new knowledge in the field of functional zoology

Required prior knowledge

Mandatory Knowledge:
ZSS06100 Laboratory Safety
Assumed Knowledge:
EZO10306/EZO10806 Zoology
HAP20306 Human and Animal Physiology
EZO31306 Vertebrate Structure and Function;
MAT14803 Mathematics 1 + MAT14903 Mathematics 2.
To enable students to check whether they have a sufficient background knowledge in mathematics, a test can be provided.

Link to more information

If anything remains unclear, please check the FAQ of Wageningen University.


  • Start date

    10 March 2025

    • Ends
      2 May 2025
    • Term *
      Period 5
    • Location
    • Instruction language
    • Register between
      1 Jun, 00:00 - 9 Feb 2025
These offerings are valid for students of Utrecht University