This investigative case module was prepared as part of a BioQUEST faculty development workshop. The cases, resources, and implementation strategies were developed by participants for use with their own students. We invite you to adopt and adapt the following materials.

The BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium is committed to the reform of undergraduate biology instruction through an emphasis on engaging students in realistic scientific practices. This approach is sometimes characterized as an inquiry driven approach and is captured in BioQUEST's three P's (problem-posing, problem-solving, and peer-persuasion). As part of this workshop groups of faculty were encouraged to initiate innovative curricular projects. We are sharing these works in progress in the hope that they will stimulate further exploration, collaboration and development. Please see the following links for additional information:

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Investigative Cases
The Case: Male Resources and Female Adaptive Mating Decisions

John and David were very close friends and roommates in college. John majored in business and David majored in Sociology. After graduation, John went on and got and MBA and David got a Masters in social work. John and David have kept in touch with each other via email and telephone but they have not seen each other in seven years. John lives in Manhattan and is a corporate executive making over $400,000 a year. David lives in Chicago and is a social worker making $40,000 a year.

John invites David to spend a week with him in New York. When David arrives, he quickly realizes that John has done quite well financially. He has two expensive cars, a very “bad” penthouse and some cool clothes. However, what really surprises David is the number of different women that call John on the phone and come over to his house. David thinks back to college and remembers that they both attracted females at about the same level but nothing like this. David found that just being around John gave him an opportunity to meet more women in a week than he would in Chicago in six months. David tells John that he is proud of him and that he has done well both financially and with women.

David also notices that John has invested a lot of money in security systems to protect his cars and penthouse and John works about 14 hours a day during the week and about ten hours over the week end. In addition, John has been mugged on three occasions in the past two years. John just simply says that if you drive expensive cars and wear expensive clothes you attract thugs, but it also helps in attracting women.

Case Author:
Duane Jackson Morehouse College

Case Analysis

Balancing the cost and benefits of attaining and retaining resources.

David benefits from just being around John. (This is example of satellite behavior).

Female adaptive choices

Predatory X prey interactions

Visual communication – males advertising to females that they have resources.

Option: Include a know / need to know chart like the one below:

What do you know?
What do you need to know?

Learning Goals


•From discussion of this case study, should be able to connect information discussed earlier in the semester on territoriality, visual communication, predator x prey interaction with sexual interaction.

•Learned to work and problem solve in a group to organize and produce a power point presentation.



Investigations and Activities

Students will have two individual short papers 2-3 pages and a group project. For the first short paper, students will have a paper that is required reading that states that in 36 out of 37 cultures, that females placed greater significance on financial prospects of a mate than males. The article does not say which culture, but gives the reference in the bibliography. The student will have to find the culture that is different and speculate based on the culture why it is different. Also in this paper they will have to discuss an example from the animal world in which females have the resources and it is the male that is choosy.

For second short paper, students in the lab will do computer simulation on harem size. This program is produced by Animal Behavior Data Simulation. Students will manipulate parameters to optimize cost and benefits. They will report their findings and discuss the effects and interactions of the parameters.

For the group project, students will be in groups of 3-4 students. Each group will be given a different group of animals (insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals or fish). They will do a power point presentation or poster in which they will discuss the natural history of a species in which the male is territorial. For this presentation they will include information on territorial size, resources in territory, how males advertise their resources, predation risk and if there is satellite behavior.



Behavior: Sex and stress don't mix

Territorial Behavior of Odonata

Continuity vs. (Political) Correctness: Animal Models and Human Aggression

Animal Behavior Data Simulation
Oakleaf System

Students will usually obtain additional references or resources
to help answer or explore their questions.

Special Data Items


Student Products

Assessment and Evaluation Plan

For this section of the course

Short papers 10 % (each)
Group project 30%



Course name:
Animal Behavior
Likely sequence in syllabus:
During section on sexual behavior
Time during term:
First week of April
Three weeks
Classroom & lab
Students in course:
Juniors & seniors
Collaborative elements:
Will have one individual assignment & one group assignment
Additional notes:



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