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I. Development of scientific analytical skills (i.e., "critical thinking"), including:
1) Understanding what a "hypothesis" is.
2) Understanding what "competing" or "alternative" hypotheses are.
3) Understanding how to "test" a hypothesis. Includes concepts of falsifiability, predictions, problems with correlations, and different scientific methods, e.g., comparative, experimental, natural experiments, etc. Popper, Kuhn, and Plant.
4) Understanding how to collect and analyze information (data). Note: techniques are discussed at different times using specific primate field and lab studies as examples; there is no special discussion of techniques.
5) Ability to develop original hypotheses and devise tests.
6) Ability to recognize important scientific problems.
II. Development of understanding of evolutionary and ecological theory, including:
1) Basics of evolutionary process: Heritability, variation, differential reproduction. (Darwin, Mayr)
2) Levels of natural selection: focus on individual/gene function. Replicator/vehicle concept (Dawkins). Group selection fallacy (Williams).
3) Concept of "adaptation" (Williams)
4) Principles of taxonomy and phylogenetic reconstruction (homologous-analogous, primitive-derived, cladistics).
5) Concepts of ecological niche, adaptive radiation, competitive exclusion (Madagascar lemur example).
6) Functional anatomy
7) Concepts of phenotypic plasticity, norm of reaction.
8) Proximate and ultimate causes (Tinbergen)
9) Evolutionary principles of behavior: kin selection, reciprocity, mating systems, parental care, sex allocation, life histories, intelligence, play, group formation, social hierarchies.
III. Acquisition of useful knowledge of the Primates, including:
1) Primate taxonomy
2) Evolutionary history of the primates (fossils)
4) Diet, foraging behavior
6) Social organization, behavior
7) Reproductive ecology and mating systems
IV. Development of communication skills, especially written and oral argumentation.
1) Scientific writing format (see handout on Scientific Writing)
2) Structure of written argument
3) Literature search
4) Use of tables, charts, figures, diagrams, ...