Methods for Animal Behavior Research

Article excerpt

Methods for Animal Behavior Research. 2009. Wildlife Conservation Society and Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Behavior Advisory Group.

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Methods for Animal Behavior Research is a comprehensive DVD tutorial designed to answer the following questions:

* How do I conduct a literature search in animal behavior and what reference tools are available?

* How can I refine my interest in animal behavior into a research question and hypothesis?

* How do I know what behaviors to study and how do I collect good behavioral data?

* How do I analyze behavioral data?

Developed by research scientists and animal curators who have trained a variety of audiences in various aspects of the scientific and behavioral research process, this DVD takes viewers through all of the steps necessary to conduct research projects in animal behavior, illustrating concepts with graphics and footage of animals at the Wildlife Conservation Society and at field sites around the world. Supplementary materials are also available in PDF files on the DVD. Six chapters are available on the following topics:

* "Conducting a Literature Search" provides an overview of the various kinds of reference materials and search tools useful for animal behavior research and teaches the viewer how to narrow a general interest down to a research topic. Viewers also learn how to critically evaluate scientific literature.

* "Developing Research Questions and Hypotheses" shows students how to develop their interest in an area of animal behavior into a clear research question. Viewers then learn how to develop testable hypotheses and predictions.

* "Constructing an Ethogram" teaches the viewers how to select which behaviors to record to answer their research question, how to classify behaviors, and how to define these behaviors empirically.

* "Designing an Experiment" introduces the viewer to the factors important in designing good scientific experiments.

Common experimental designs used in behavior studies are discussed as well as some common pitfalls in experimental design. …