Labs & Research Project 2010/11

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Last Update: Sept 7 2010

Important Notices | General Information | Personnel | Marking Scheme | Research Project | Schedule | Useful Links


During these weeks TAs will be have ‘office hours’ in regularly scheduled lab times. If you wish to talk to us (but may be late) please email us and let us know (if we are unneeded we may leave the lab).

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Labs are held from 2:10 to 5:00 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays in room SB 4076 (unless otherwise noted in the Schedule).

Attendance at all lab meetings is mandatory. If you cannot make it to a meeting you must speak to your TA beforehand or provide a medical note afterward. Failure to do so will result in an automatic loss of 10% from any assignments that follow from the lab missed.

All written assignments (paper copies) are due in the lab or drop-box by 2:10 pm, and an electronic copy must be submitted by 6:00 pm the same day through

Late assignments (either paper or electronic) will receive a grade of 0 unless accompanied by a university-sanctioned medical note.
Go here to download the form.

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Kyla Ercit
(Thursday's TA)

For contact information see Blackboard

Byron Hughson
( Tuesday’s TA)

For contact information see Blackboard

Hana Otta
Office: SB 4076

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The labs are worth 50% of your final grade. It is imperative that you work hard during every lab.


Lab Reports (15%)
- Goose Lab (2%)
- Tree Cricket Lab (2%)
- Optimal Foraging Lab (4%)
- Statistics Lab (3%)
- Tenebrio Lab (4%)

Other Assignments (7%)
- Journal Club Check Sheets (5* 0.5 = 2.5%)
- Special Writing Assignment (2%)
- Participation (2.5%)

Research Project (28%)
- Bibliography (1%)
- Proposal Presentation (3%)
- Project Outline (2%)
- Progress Report & Lab Notebook (1%)
- Final Presentation (6%)
- Final Report (15%)

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     In consultation with your TA and professors, you and one other student will propose, design, execute, write-up and present an experiment on some aspect of animal behaviour. This project forms a significant part of the course. The final report of your research project will have the same format as a manuscript submitted to the journal Behavioral Ecology for publication. In fact, some 318 projects have even been submitted to scholarly journals and been accepted for publication (e.g. Fitzpatrick MJ, Szewczyk E. 2005. Locomotion is not influenced by denticle number in larvae of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. Can J Zool 83:368-371)! You and your partner will work together to prepare each of the components of your research project (see above). Therefore, the mark that each assignment receives will be the same for both you and your partner. It is critical that both you and your partner contribute equally to the project.

     Early in the first semester, each pair of students will hand in a Bibliography assignment, which lists and briefly describes the journal articles that will be useful in formulation of their project idea. Then in the two weeks prior to December exams, lab time will be devoted to a series of talks in which each pair of students will give an oral Proposal Presentation for their research project. Both partners are expected to deliver a proportion of the talk. The other students in your lab section, the TAs and the professors will provide a friendly audience for constructive criticism and suggestions for your research project. Having given this oral presentation and taken heed of any suggested changes, each pair of students will submit a Project Outline to their TA early in the second semester. Following this, a Progress Report and each pair's Lab Notebook will be due the week of 12/14 February. Near the end of the second term, beginning the week of 25/27 March, lab meeting times will be devoted to Final Presentations of your finished project. Again, both partners are expected to deliver a proportion of the talk. The Final Report is due the week of 8/10 April.

     In pulling together your proposed research ideas (i.e. before the proposal presentation) please make full use of your TA and professors by discussing your ideas with them. The lecture schedule is often a useful guide as to which professors are most appropriate for various subject areas (see also the Useful Links section below). Where practical we will provide students with the necessary equipment and/or study animals. Your first and best resource in this regard is our technician, Hana Otta. If we have a piece of equipment, she will know, and will lend it to you provided you take care of it and agree to return it in the condition you took it. Careless use of equipment or university facilities, and discourteous behaviour will not be tolerated. Each student pair proceeds at a different rate largely depending on the effort that they put in. Your TA may give you the green light to start your project before Christmas if they feel that your experimental design is ready. It is to your advantage to pick a partner and get started early in the fall semester!

     The best place to start formulating ideas for a research project is in the library. Between the UTM and St. George libraries you can find the following journals (among others) that publish research papers in animal behaviour: Animal Behaviour; Applied Animal Behaviour; Behaviour; Behavioral Ecology; Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology; Ethology; Ethology, Ecology & Evolution; Journal of Insect Behavior; Journal of Ethology. Papers in animal behaviour also appear frequently in: Evolution, American Naturalist, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (Series B), Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, Nature, Science, Current Biology, Journal of Animal Ecology, Ecology Letters, Evolutionary Ecology and zoology journals such as Canadian Journal of Zoology, Integrative & Comparative Biology and Florida Entomologist. Many of these journals are now online, so you may be able to read many of the articles that interest you without ever leaving home. This link will connect you with the U of T Electronic Journals Index.

     An extremely powerful tool for searching the literature is now available on-line for U of T students. It is the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Science. If you find a central paper that is critical to your project, you can use the ISI search engine to see what other papers have referenced it since the time it was first published. This is an excellent way to get ideas (see useful links below for other search engines).

     We strongly discourage the use of vertebrates in any research projects. Projects require protocols for animal care whenever vertebrates are used, even if the research project is conducted in the field, or off campus. These animal care protocols must be approved by the university animal care committee before work begins, and there is no guarantee that approval will be granted. Having said that, inadequate care or inhumane treatment of study animals, be they vertebrate or invertebrate, will not be tolerated and will result in the swift termination of the research project in question.

Click here for a list of some potential study species for your independent projects.

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2010/2011 SCHEDULE


Before Lab

During Lab

Sept 14/16


First Meeting: Discuss general lab outline, our expectations, research projects.


Preview of Goose Lab.

Sept 18 **Sat**

Read Goose Lab outline.

Goose Lab: Observation and description of goose behaviour.

Meet Saturday morning at 9:45 at the entrance to the Ferry Docks, 9 Queens Quay W. Toronto. You are responsible for paying your fare to and from Toronto Island.

An example of an ethogram is available in this paper: Chen et al. 2002. Fighting fruit flies: a model system for the study of aggression. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA 99:5664-5668.

Sept 21/Sept 23

Read assigned journal article. Hand in journal club check sheet.

Journal club check sheet template available here.

1st Journal Club: Paper to read is:

Campus walk and tree cricket collection. Be prepared to go outside... rain or shine! Wear long pants (poison ivy) and appropriate footwear.

Sept 28/Sept 30

Read Tree Cricket Lab outline.

Tree Cricket Lab: Observation and description of tree cricket mating behaviour.


Discuss bibliography assignment. Details available here

Oct 5/7

Goose lab report due.

We will not meet this week.

Oct 12/14

Tree cricket lab report due.


Read assigned journal article. Hand in journal club check sheet.

2nd Journal Club: Paper to read is:

Oct 19/21

Bibliography assignment due.

Read Optimal Foraging Lab outline.

Optimal Foraging Lab: Foraging in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata.

Oct 26/Oct 28

Read Cricket Aggression Lab outline.

Cricket Aggression Lab: Aggressive behaviour in the fall field cricket, Gryllus pennsylvanicus (data collection for statistics workshop).

Nov 2/Nov 4

Optimal foraging lab report due.

Statistics Workshop: Introduction to analyses that are useful for animal behaviour.

Handout is available here.


Discuss proposal presentation. Details available here.

Nov 9/11

Statistics lab report due.

Read Tenebrio Lab outline.

Tenebrio Lab: Cues used by male mealworm beetles, Tenebrio molitor during mating.

Nov 16/18

Read assigned journal article. Hand in journal club check sheet.

3rd Journal Club: Paper to read is:

Nov 23/25

All proposal presentations must be submitted in class this week.

Proposal Presentations

Nov 30/ Dec 2


Study Break

Dec 7/9



Dec 14/16



Dec 22 - Jan 2



Jan 4/6

Tenebrio lab report due


Read assigned journal article. Hand in journal club check sheet.

4th Journal Club: Crook TC, Flatt T, Smiseth PT. 2007. Hormonal modulation of larval begging and growth in the burying beetle Nicrophorus vespilloides. Animal Behaviour 75:71-77..


Discuss project outline. Details available here.

Jan 11/13

Project outline due.

The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Jan 18/20


The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Jan 25/27


The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Feb 1/3


Discuss progress report. Details available here.

Feb 8/10

Read assigned journal article. Hand in journal club check sheet. 


Progress report and lab notebook due.

5th Journal Club: TBA


Hand in both your progress report and lab notebook to your TA in the lab. We will briefly look over your notebook and give it back to you.

Feb 15/17



Feb 22/24


The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Mar 1/3


The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Mar 8/10

Read writing assignment article: Gopen GD, Swan JA. 1990. The science of scientific writing. American Scientist 78:550-558..

Discuss special writing assignment. Details available here.

Mar 15/17

Special writing assignment due.

The TAs will be present in SB 4076 to help with projects and answer questions.

Mar 22/24

Presentation guidelines available here. All final presentations must be submitted in class this week.

Final Presentations

Mar 29/Mar 31

Final report and lab notebook due. Instructions on how to format your final report are available here.

Example of a formatted manuscript: Kelly2005_submitted.pdf
Published paper: Kelly2005_published.pdf

Final Presentations

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UTM Biology
U of T Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
U of T - Animal Care (Information and Forms)

Search Engines for Journals and Journal Articles
ISI - Web of Science (great search engine for journal articles)
Scopus (another search engine for journal articles)
Google Scholar (another useful search engine)
U of T Library - e-Resources (all available online journals, search indexes etc. available via U of T)
U of T Library - e-Journals (search online journals available via U of T)
JSTOR (archive of old journal issues)

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‘maintained’ by Darryl Gwynne