Methods in Behavioural Biology


Over deze cursus

In this course, we will practice and discuss essential components of the behavioural research process, mostly in chronological order, as they would come up during your own thesis project. The first part will focus on important considerations when deciding on your study approach, your study design, your behavioural measurements protocol and your data management. The second part will focus on selected study techniques in animal behaviour. The third part will focus on data analysis, discussing key components of data analysis in general, such as data exploration, and some specific challenges and solutions to analysing behavioural data. Finally, we will discuss the importance of transparent reporting. Throughout the course, we will introduce you to a number of freely available software that we frequently use in the collection and analysis of behavioural studies, such as the event-logging software BORIS and the statistical software R.


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

  • implement suitable sampling methods to quantify behavioural observations and recordings;

  • choose a suitable study approach, design and data source to test hypotheses about a given behaviour;

  • identify key biases in behavioural research, and the methods to overcome them, in all phases of the research cycle;

  • describe key aspects of good practice in data organisation and management in all phases of the research cycle;

  • explain how statistics can inform choices on study design;

  • appraise the replicability and suitability of the methodological approach of a given behavioural study by writing a preprint review;

Additional goals:

  • retrieve recent and relevant scientific literature on animal behaviour;
  • practice behaviour scoring from video recordings using the program BORIS;
  • practice appropriate exploration and analysis of behavioural data in the program R;

Onderwijsmethode en toetsing

Individual assignments (10%), individual report (30%), and written exam with open and closed questions (60%). Students need a minimum mark of 5.5 for each of the three components (Assignments, Report, Exam) to pass the course.

Veronderstelde voorkennis

Assumed Knowledge:
BHE20303 Animal Behaviour

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