Ethology of the predatory behaviour

Type of instruction




Part of degree program


Recommended in

Semesters 1-4

Typically offered in

Autumn/Spring semester

Course description

I. Basics - The definition of predators and predation - Predation as a functional category

II. The warfare beteen plants and herbivors - Herbivors as predators? - Predator avoidance in plants. Compensation.

III. How herbivors can outsmart the plants? - Learning during feeding - Learning what is edible from the others

IV. Food selection (1) - Food selection I. – poly-, oligo-, monophag species - Food selection II. – switch between foods

V. Food selection (2) - Food selection III. – optimal foraging theory - Food selection IV. – generalist and specialist feeders, the cost of searching and handling

VI. Optimal foraging - Feed or do something eles - trade off between feeding and survival - The effect of the prey abundance

VII. Primary predator avoidance (1) - crypsis, contour-braking - transparency, changing of colours - colour polimorphism, choosing the ground

VIII. Primary predator avoidance (2) - combination of movement and crypsis, altering the environment - apostatic selection

IX. Primary predator avoidance (3) - Müller-mimicry - Bates-mimicry

X. Secondary predator avoidance (1) - eye spots, fake heads - autotomy

XI. Secondary predator avoidance(2) - play dead, faking of injury - signalling to the predator - predator deterrance

XII. Defensive groups (1) - the Schreckstoff - dilution effect, enhanced vigilance

XIII. Defensive groups (2) - the selfish herd - confusion effect

XIV. Defensive goups (3) - mobbing behaviour - altruism in defence

  • Goodenough, McGuire, Wallace: Perspectives on animal behaviour. 2nd ed. Wiley & Sons Inc. New York, 2001