20 Research Essay Topics: Behavioral Ecology Issues You Should Discuss

Topics and ideas
Posted on March 25, 2016

Behavioral Ecology is a fascinating and vast field. It is also an interesting subject as it aims to simplify the complex interaction of environments and animals. However, as fascinating as this subject may be, you may feel blank when assigned a research essay on it. Most students often get stuck at the very first step of the process: coming up with a topic. This can be an overwhelming feeling, especially if your deadline is looming around the corner.

Luckily, we are here for your rescue. We managed to come up with 20 great topics related to Animal Behavioral Ecology. You can choose any of the following 20 topics to write on, or be inspired by them to come up with your own research essay topic.

  1. The Causes of Variations in Male Mating Strategies Within a Specie
  2. The Effect of Environmental Factors on Animal Mating Tactics
  3. The Information Flow Among Group-Animals and the Information Available in the Animal’s Visual Field
  4. The Application of Voroni Tassellation and Delaunay Triangulation on Behavioral Ecology.
  5. The Relationship Between Migratory Patterns and Habitat Climate
  6. How the Life Cycles of Migratory Birds Becomes Attuned with the Cycles of Their Target Habitats
  7. The Marginal Value Theory and Animal Foraging Behaviors
  8. The Gene-Based and Resource-Based Sexual Selection Strategies of Animals
  9. The Causes of Sexual Conflict in Animals
  10. The Evolutionary Consequences of Sexual Conflict
  11. Inter-Family Conflicts in Behavioral Ecology
  12. Characteristics and Advantages of Optimal Foraging Behavior
  13. Behavioral Ecology of Insect Parasitoids
  14. Biparental Care Patterns in Animals
  15. 15. Parental Care Patterns in Fish
  16. Parental Care by Brood Parasitism
  17. Factors Influencing the Diversity of Mating Systems
  18. Understanding Animal Cooperation
  19. Imprinting as a Kinship Determination Method
  20. Inclusive Fitness and Hamilton’s Rule

Quick Tip: Make it Specific by Focusing on a Particular Animal Specie

We could have made the topics very specific, but this would have sacrificed the nature of the essay. Besides, you could have ended up writing a research essay eerily similar to that submitted by one of your classmates. So, use the topics as an excellent starting point instead.

The following lines offer a short sample essay to help you out. Think of it as an outline that you have to follow. Though the length of the sample might not be the same as your instructor’s requirements, follow this template (unless you were given one) to secure a good grade.

Sample Research Essay: Social Foraging Behavior in Animals

Does efficient social foraging exhibit a special ‘intelligence’ in animals?
Foraging is the most common technique used by animals to find sustenance. Individual and social foraging behaviors both exhibit a certain level of instinctual knowledge which can be thought of as intelligence. Since most animals categorized as social foragers can exhibit complex social communication and problem-solving skills during group hunting, it is likely that these animals are more effective at foraging than non-social foragers.

There are two major types of food seeking strategies employed by animals: sit and wait (the kind employed by spiders, rattlesnakes, etc.) and active searching (used by dragonflies, coyotes, etc.). Carnivores use a combination of both these strategies to find prey.

It is a well-known fact that animals cooperate among their own species. By doing so, they can increase their own fitness levels. Social foraging behavior is when two or more animals cooperatively look for food. The level of cooperation is the main factor which differentiates among this behaviors:  uninvited foragers which can be from the same specie or a different one, cooperative Hunting, commonly seen by lions, wolves and wild dogs, eusocial animals extreme cooperation as seen, for example, in honeybees and ants.

Foraging theories have been proposed to try to model animal foraging patterns. The models created work on the assumption that foraging animals try to maximize the return and minimize the effort exerted. The models also take into account the distribution of the individual animals in a fixed foraging area. The behavioral aspect of these theories focuses on how and why the animal made the decision to start foraging in a particular area.

Finding food in the wild is impossible without certain instincts. These instincts are part of the animal’s nature. However, some foraging behavior is so complex that it can be considered as a type of intelligence. Social foraging animals need insight learning, problem solving abilities, and memory. They respond to environmental changes by altering their tactics.

The knowledge about forage comes from a deep instinct retained over generations. Socially foraging animals exhibit more sophisticated mechanisms. They react to changes in the foraging environment effectively.

Though this is a good example, we know that you can do much better. Therefore, mull over the 20 topics above, pick one, narrow it down, and research to your heart’s content to create a great research essay on animal behavioral ecology.


Davies, N., Krebs, J., & West, S. (2012). An introduction to behavioural ecology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Raven, P., & Johnson, G. (2002). Biology. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Bautista, L. M., J. Tinbergen, P. Wiersma, and A. Kacelnik. 1998. Optimal foraging and beyond: How starlings compe with changes in food availability. Am. Nat. 152:543-561.
Brown, J. S, J. W. Laundre and M. Gurung. 1999. The ecology of fear: optimal foraging, game theory and trophic interactions. J. Mammol. 80:385-399
Hirvoven, J., E. Ranta, H. Rita, and N. Peuhkuri. 1999. Significance of memory properties in prey choice decisions. Ecol. Model. 115:177-189.
Pasquet, A., R. Leborgne, and Y. Lubin 1999. Previous foraging success influences web building in the spider Stegodyphus lineatus. Behav. Ecol. 10:115-121

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