Behavior of Mammals

Bi/CNS 216

6 units (4-0-2); first term (Fall 2015)

A course of lectures, readings, and discussions focused on the genetic, physiological, and ecological bases of behavior in mammals. A basic knowledge of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology is desirable.

Class meets Wednesdays 2-4 and Fridays 2-4 in 200 Broad.

Instructor: John Allman
TA: Tobin Ivy

Grading is based on:

1. Presentations made on the listed readings. Each student will be responsible for at least two presentations. The presentations should be 15-20 minutes and be made in PowerPoint. They should be in the nature of a journal club talk; students are urged to use related literature to enhance the presentation.

2. Grant Proposal -- A five page (not including literature cited) grant proposal based on some aspect of mammalian behavior. Submit your proposal topic by October 25. The full proposal is due Wednesday, November 25, submitted via email to Tobin Ivy as a Microsoft Word (.doc) attachment.

You don't have to include a budget, but your proposal should be feasible.

Base your proposal on the "project description" section of an NSF grant proposal (taken from http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/gpg/nsf04_23/2.jsp#IIC2d).

The Project Description should provide a clear statement of the work to be undertaken and must include: objectives for the period of the proposed work and expected significance; relation to longer-term goals of the PI's project; and relation to the present state of knowledge in the field, to work in progress by the PI under other support and to work in progress elsewhere.

Other helpful links may include: NIH grant writing tips

Grading breakdown:

1. Two presentations, each worth 25% of the grade
2. Quizzes, worth a total of 25% of the grade
3. Grant proposal, worth 25% of the grade

Texts (order online):

  • David MacDonald, The Encyclopedia of Mammals. Readings from the Encyclopedia of Mammals should be completed before the viewing date of the associated films. These readings will not be presented.

  • Frans de Waal and Frans Lanting, Bonobo, the Forgotten Ape. Both these books can be easily obtained from Amazon.

Wednesday Friday
September 30

October 2

Organizational meeting--syllabus discussed, readings assigned for presentation

Wolves transformed into dogs, Robert Wayne, CARTA symposium, 2014
October 7

Gremlins of the Night (prosimians)

Short Lecture: Early primate evolution

EM 442-475 (bats), 302-307, 312-313 (bush babies, lorises, pottos, tarsiers)
October 9

Evolution of mammals
October 14

Gremlins: Faces in the Forest (marmosets and tamarins)
Rocky Mountain Beaver Pond

Allman and Hasenstaub (2000) Caretaking, risk-seeking, and survival in anthropoid primates. [pdf]

EM 314-318 (marmosets and tamarins), 142-147 (beavers)
October 16

Biparental care
October 21

White Wolf

Dogs Decoded

EM 590-619 (dog family)
October 23


Family groups
October 28

Meerkats United

Kangaroos: Faces in the Mob

EM 660-667 (mongoose), 48-59 (kangaroos and wallabies), xxxi (kin selection and reciprocal altruism)
October 30

Large communities
November 4

The Monkey Puzzle (David Attenborough)

Monkeys of the Temple Forest (45 min.)

EM 286-305 (strepsirhines), 336-357 (guenons, macaques, baboons)
November 6

Primate troops
November 11

Reflections on Elephants (55 min.)

Dolphins (55 min.)

EM 90-101 (elephants), 814-857 (toothed and gray whales)
November 13

November 18

The Last Great Ape (56 min.)

EM 384-391 (chimpanzees), 420-425 (orangutans)
November 20

Great apes
November 25


Orangutansr:, the High Society (55 min.)

November 27

Thanksgiving Recess

December 2

Elephant Seals (72 min.)

December 4

Discussion of grant proposals