Practicals in Ethometry – Cologne

A practical stage at the Zoo of Cologne is organized, in October, as part of the course “Stage intégré d’Ethométrie” (SSTG0053-1) for the students of the Master of Biology of the Organisms and Ecocology (BOE, second year) of the University of Liege. Students arriving in ULiege directly for Bloc 2 of BOE Master need to choose as options the following lectures: Behavioural Ecology  (ZOOL0213) and Ethometry (SSTG0053-1). Students in the master of Psychology that have taken at the same time “Primatology” (BIOL1064) and “Behavioral Ecology” (ZOOL0213) may participate at the stage (depending on availabilities).

Registration to the practicals in Cologne is mandatory before the deadline (end of september). Official inscriptions for the Master should also be done as early as possible.

The aim of this stage is to learn and test varied methodologies to record animal behaviour. Groups of two or usually three students select a model species present in the zoo, determine and define the list of exhibited behavioural patterns, learn to recognize each studied individuals and finally quantify behavioural acts through standardized observations and recordings (scan and focal methods). Therefore, students obtain activity budgets and/or social interaction matrices and can compare several methods but also test for an eventual effect of the observers. After the stage itself, the students integrate their data and compare them to the relevant literature. Therefore, this practical allows students to cope with varied aspects of scientific research and more specifically in Ethology.

Practical information are available on ecampus (access restricted to students that are registered at the university). A presentation of the stage will be given soon after the start of the academic uear (in September, for example in the welcome day or at the first lecture).

Place: Kolner Zoo (Germany) – Daily opening hours (in October): 9-18h.

Lodging: usually in a youth hostel in the city of Cologne (Köln), in shared rooms (3 to 6 beds)

Cathering: Each morning at the hostel and on the evening either in the hostel or in a restaurant (with the whole group).

Usual program: first day, visit of the zoo and first check of the study species in the afternoon (start of the stage) and introduction to the stage; 2nd day: learning on the study species (individual identification, behavioural listing, first trials of records); 3rd day: behavioural observations and recordings, 4th day: complementary recordings (possibly optional) in the morning (end of the stage).

Booking: participation to the costs to be paied at the start of the academic year, in September so to book lodging at the same place and the rate for all participants. Late booking might be accepted (only in September) but depending on availabilities, prices may be higher. An inscription sheet need to be completed at the presentation talk at the start of the year.

Transportation: Not included. For students coming by car, the access to the City of Cologne (including the area of the zoo and the hostel) need a tax label. Both ICE and Thalys go to Cologne from Liege. Arrival must be at least 30 minutes before the appointment at the hostel as we go direrctly afterwards to the zoo.

Individual material needed or useful: Sheets (with a support) an/or a field book, a  ruler (30 cm), pencils, a chronometer (smartphone etc), clothes adapted to the weather of October (including gloves, hat and a good pullover, particularly for those selecting species living outdoor; in contrast it is warm inside the “tropical” building enclosures). A German – French dictionary is useful.  A photo camera is adequate to identify/record animals and arena features. Binoculars can be useful as well as a sound recorder (for voice recording). In case of rain, an umbrella is more than useful as well as protective plastic bags for the material.

Examples of study species, present in the zoo:

The observations being carried out by groups, it is needed to compose the groups before the arrival in Cologne. On the other hand, the species must be chosen at least two weeks before the stage to start the bibliographic search. Thinking to a second choice species is recommended. There are only one group of students per enclosure.

Suggested species for groups of three students:

Bonobos (Pan paniscus), gorilla (Gorilla gorilla), orang-outan (Pongo pygmaeus), lion-tailed macaque (Macaca silenus), Red howlers (Alouatta seniculus), Buff-headed Capuchin (Cebus xanthosternos), Hamadryas babboons (Papo hamadryas), black and white ruffed lemurs (Varieca variegata), asian elephants (Elephas maximus), suricates (Suricata suricatta), Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cynereus), Humboldt penguins (Spheniscus humboldti)

Lecture notes and supporting information: see ecampus (access to registered students).

Bibliography: personal search in the university libraries or in internet (for instance SCOPUS in intranet; outside ULiege, login via VPN)

Report: title, authors, summary, introduction (presentation of the study species), Material & Methods, Results (in two parts: focus on the behaviour and then focus on the methodologies), discussion (similarly in two parts), bibliographic references. Only one report per group but a detail of the contribution of each student to be indicated in appendix.

Deadline for providing the reports (paper + pdf versions): 15 December to M. Denoël /F. Brotcorne.

Teachers: M. Denoël (coordinator), F. Brotcorne and J. Delcourt

Secretary (registration by email): Valérie Beaupain, Institute of Zoology, email: eb.eg1566114671eilu@1566114671niapu1566114671aeB.e1566114671irela1566114671V1566114671, phone: 04.366.50.81.

Thanks: These practicals are made possible due to the support of Kolner Zoo and J.C. Plumier.