Neuroethology and Behavioral Ecology

What we do:

We investigate causal, developmental, functional, and evolutionary aspects of animal behavior. This includes analyzing genetic, neural and psychological mechanisms underlying behavior, as well as their evolutionary consequences in terms of speciation and diversification. Research is conducted both in laboratory and field populations.

Within OEB, we focus primarily on animal systems other than humans, including the neurobiology of learning and memory, the behavioral ecology of species interactions, mating behavior and its role in species divergence, and perceptions involved in social interactions.

Current areas of research include:

  • Genetic basis of innate behaviors
  • Behavioral ecology of species interactions
  • Mating behavior, sexual selection and speciation
  • Neural basis of vocal learning in songbirds
  • Neural regulation of olfactory learning in C. elegans
  • Evolution of cognition
  • Behavioral consequences of genetic conflicts
  • Cultural evolution and transmission of behavior
  • Evolution of economic decision making and cooperation


Faculty in other Departments:

Catherine Dulac (MCB)
Peter T. Ellison (Human Evolutionary Biology)
Florian Engert (MCB)
Takao Hensch (MCB)
Cheryl D. Knott (Human Evolutionary Biology)
Edward A. Kravitz (Harvard Medical School)
Samuel M. Kunes (MCB)
Markus Meister (MCB)
Venkatesh N. Murthy (MCB)
Aravinthan D.T. Samuel (Biophysics)
Naoshige Uchida (MCB)
Rachel Wilson (Harvard Medical School)
Richard W. Wrangham (Human Evolutionary Biology)


Selected courses in Neuroethology and Behavioral Ecology:

OEB 57 (formerly Biological Sciences 57). Animal Behavior
OEB 114. Vertebrate Viviparity
OEB 125. Molecular Ecology and Evolution
OEB 130. Patterns and Processes in Fish Diversity
OEB 155r. Biology of Insects
OEB 167. Herpetology
OEB 174r. Topics in Behavioral Ecology
OEB 190. Biology and Diversity of Birds
OEB 214. Biology of Acoustic Communities
OEB 223. Topics in Neurogenetics

Courses in other Departments :

Anthropology 2442. Primate and Human Juveniles
Anthropology 2430. Behavioral Biology Seminar
Anthropology 2452. Evolution of Human Family
Anthropology 2467r. Topics in Human Reproductive Ecology
Psychology 1151. Cognitive Evolution: Theory and Practice
Psychology 1152r. Cognitive Evolution Lab
Psychology 1351. Animal Cognition
Psychology 1353. Avian Cognition
MCB 80. Neurobiology of Behavior
MCB 105. Systems Neuroscience
MCB 129. Molecular Genetics of Neural Development and Behavior
MCB 141. Molecular and Developmental Neurobiology
MCB 186. Circadian Biology: From Cellular Oscillators to Sleep

See also listings in:
Mind, Brain and Behavior
Human Evolutionary Biology