Below is an example exam for this course. Each question requires approximately 1-3 pages to answer it sufficiently.

Example Exam: Take-Home Problems

  1. Compare Lorenz's view of learning, or, if you prefer, one part of his view of learning, with that of a behaviorist such as B. F. Skinner or M. E. Bitterman. Relate the differences in these views to the schools of thought from which they emerged. How would a "sociobiologist" react to these two different views?
  2. Consider the feeding and foraging behavior of chimpanzees and mountain gorillas. Discuss the similarities and differences, and how they affect the adaptiveness of each species, particularly in view of human encroachment into their habitats. Include such topics as types of food eaten, foods used in relation to territoriality, sharing of food, and learning.
  3. Compare the anti-predator strategies of several different species: rat, prairie dog, ground squirrel, meerkat, gazelle or other antelope or deer, and vervet monkey. Discuss, for at least four different species, how and why the different behaviors for each species might have evolved.
  4. Pick two related species, one which exhibits sexual dimorphism and one which does not (e.g., robins and blue jays). Compare the physical and behavioral differences of the two species, and discuss how and why the sexually dimorphic characteristics might have evolved. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of such characteristics. Explain how these two species fit into a general theory of sexual dimorphism and why it has evolved.
  5. Compare and contrast the social behaviors of rats and hamsters. Include how each species uses its living space. Discuss how the differences in these two species might affect the way one would, or should, house them in a laboratory setting.
  6. The term "territory" is used in several different ways in studies of animal behavior. Discuss the different types of territory, across different species and also within a single species, using at least a few specific examples.
  7. In discussions of the evolution of behavior patterns, what is meant by "emancipation"? Cite some specific examples. How can the original behavior pattern change? Note the relevance of this concept to human ethology.
  8. What is involved in the "taming" of a wild animal? Why are some species easier to tame than others? What is the difference between taming and domestication?
  9. Discuss one topic in human behavior that may be usefully analyzed with an ethological approach, but which thus far has been little studied in this way. How would studies of other primates be useful in the understanding of this topic?
  10. The "open field" activity test is frequently used in behavioral pharmacology as well as in studies of brain and behavior. Discuss the different meanings the "open field" enclosure used in these tests may have for two different species of your choice.