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Animal Behavior Field Course in Arizona, July 5 – 15, 2014

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Field Studies Of Animal Behavior


A 10-day Course for Students, Teachers, Museum Docents, Wildlife Professionals, and Nature Enthusiasts.


Dates: July 5 – 15, 2014


Sponsored by: The Southwestern Research Station Of The American Museum of Natural History. Located in the Chiricahua Mountains of Southeastern Arizona.


Instructor: Dr. Howard Topoff, Professor Emeritus of Biopsychology, The City University of New York.


The study of animal behavior is by nature interdisciplinary – crossing the boundaries between biology, psychology, and anthropology. It utilizes a combination of laboratory and field science, with strong emphasis on development, ecology, and evolution. Accordingly, it contributes both to our appreciation of human evolution, and to our ability to preserve biological diversity through conservation.


According to Conservation International, the sky islands of southern Arizona (which include the Chiricahua Mountains) contain some of the richest reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth. It is this outstanding biodiversity that attracts scientists (and their students) from all over the world. During this intensive field course, we will focus on the behavior of a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate species. Emphasis is given to educators, using projects that can be “taken home” and used with students at all levels of science education. Our studies will include:


Our studies will include:


The Adaptability Of Behavior – color and odor preferences in the selection of nectar sources by hummingbirds.

Population Dynamics – the size of territory in harvester ants as a function of colony density and food supply.

Communication – the evolution of visual displays in iguanid lizards.

Social Behavior – orientation and communication in slave-making ants.

Mating Behavior – The role of auditory signals in mating behavior of spadefoot toads.

Chemical orientation in three species of lizards: the role of Jacobson’s organ.

Visual learning in feeding behavior of Mexican jays.

Color-preference learning by hummingbirds

The course will include a daily multimedia lecture. Although most of the course will be devoted to class projects, we often are able to participate in research being conducted by scientists at the Research Station. We also attend evening seminars given by Station scientists. Indeed, it is the presence of so many scientists (and their students) from around the world that makes this field course so unique!


The course is limited to 15 participants. At the end of the course, the Southwestern Research Station will issue a Certificate of Completion. Cost: $1,020 per person for 10 nights. This includes course tuition ($350) as well as room and 3 meals each day at the Research Station ($670).


To apply: Please send a brief description of your educational status, interests, and professional plans to: htopoff@mac.com


For additional information about the course including a biography of the instructor, please see the course web site at: http://www.animalbehaviorcourse.com

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