This course focuses on how and why animals choose mates, using examples ranging from insects to humans. By examining mate choice from both a female and male perspective, this course explains why mating decisions shape the course of animal evolution, influence speciation events, and have practical considerations for animal breeding programs and welfare.
Some of the most extreme behaviours we see in the animal kingdom centre around mating. To find a mate, animals travel across the world's oceans and continent, grow energetically expensive ornaments and weapons to attract and fight for access to mates, and use exaggerated visual, vocal and chemical signals to get the attention of a potential mate. But why do animals go to such lengths? This course explains how mate choice works and explores the evolutionary reasons that explain why choosing who to mate with is one of the most important decisions an animal makes during their lifetime.
The course will consist of lectures covering core concepts in mate choice, reading assignments of scientific literature, weekly discussions, and in-depth ‘Spotlight on a Scientist’ sessions where students can learn how researchers apply the scientific method to study mate choice.
Written examination, an oral presentation and a written report.
Course literatureNote that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.
We will focus exclusively on papers from the scientific literature. Papers will be provided during the course.