Do Google Scholar searches for "ethogram," for any date, for articles since 2009, and for articles from 2012. Find an article that interests you. Write a one-page description, giving the website, the animal's name (scientific and popular), a brief description of the ethogram (which may by a partial or more comprehensive ethogram). In a final paragraph, describe what you find most interesting about this animal.
Questions on Meerkats:
Suggested readings for homework 6 are Lectures 20–21 and Alcock, The triumph of sociobiology: Chapters 2, and 3. Read the questions carefully as posed by Alcock (pp. 225, and 226, chapters 2, and 3). In each case, give a response that a sociobiologist would give. Only question two will require more than a few words in order to answer adequately.
Find two different topics that can be used to write a PowerPoint presentation that you can later present in the final presentation. (During your searches and work on this week's homework, most of you will decide which topic you want to continue to work on for this final project.)
Write a paragraph about each topic, summarizing why it is interesting to you. For each topic, list three references (full citations including titles) to papers (or books) that could be used in working on the report.
Be sure to read the presentation assignment carefully.
Read at least two articles (they may be online articles) on the field of evolutionary psychology. Write a brief review, including the definition and the origins of the term. Distinguish between sociobiology and evolutionary psychology. Also, describe a couple of the controversies that this field has generated.
Each 9.20 student must prepare a Powerpoint file for giving a 10-min oral presentation to other class members and an instructor. These presentations will be given in the sessions 32–35. All presentation files must be submitted in final form 2 days after Lecture 33. Scoring will be based on the written file.
Prior to the presentations, at times to be determined shortly after the midterm, students will submit, on the course web site, preliminary versions of their reports that include at least 3 references. This version may be in a Powerpoint file or a Word file, with a clear topic and ideas, and also 1–2 illustrative pictures (photos, drawings or graphs). Some students will be asked thereafter to visit the professor or a TA in order to discuss the report. Any student may opt to visit the professor or one of the TAs to discuss the report or to give a warm-up to the final presentation in order to obtain suggestions for improvement.
Sources in addition to class readings and talks: Recent literature in animal behavior and sociobiology found using Google Scholar. Try to read at least 10 papers. Cite 5 or more sources shown in a numbered list on the final slide. (Number of reports read or cited will vary with the specific topic.) In the previous slides, make citations by numbers in parentheses, so the sources of the information presented are clear. Books may also be used if these can be supplemented with journal articles. (Extensive use of a recent book may reduce the required number of papers needed—by agreement with the instructor.)
We expect you to find scientific articles in the professional literature of the fields of animal behavior, sociobiology, and related fields. These may also include articles in American Scientist, Natural History or Scientific American. We expect you to select some of the most recent work on your topic, using earlier work to provide background and fill in your knowledge.
If you choose a topic that has been used by a student in a prior 9.20 class, it will very likely be rejected. We expect real scholarly effort, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge of recent work and questions that investigators have been trying to answer or that they have proposed. You should attempt to formulate your own critique and questions in addition to what you find in the reports consulted. You are sure to come up with some questions while doing your literature study.
Theme of presentation: Make this clear at the outset. This theme should not be a general survey of the behavior of a single species. It should involve a question or hypothesis about animal behavior. It may use data obtained from one or more species. Present observations and experiments to answer the question or test the hypothesis. If you wish, you can come up with a testable hypothesis and the design of an experiment that could be done to test it, presenting specific findings in the animal behavior literature that are relevant to your idea(s).
In Powerpoint's edit mode, use the Notes section below each slide to summarize information that is not on the slides but can be included in the talk. (Notes do not appear on screen during a presentation.)
Wilson DS and Wilson EO (2007) Rethinking the Theoretical Foundation of Sociobiology. Quarterly Review of Biology 82: 327–48.
Williams GC (1966) Adaptation and Natural Selection. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.