Malcolm Rosenthal

BA, Oberlin College. PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Postdoctoral research scholar at University of California-Berkeley. Behavioral ecologist with special interest in the evolution of animal mating behavior. Author of papers on spider mating behavior, the evolution of sexual signal complexity, and the relationship between environmental dynamics and animal communication. Previously taught at the University of Toronto. SLC, 2021–

Previous Courses


Animal Behavior

Open, Seminar—Fall

Why do birds sing? Why do wolves hunt in packs, but spiders hunt alone? Why are worker bees willing to die to protect the queen? In short, why do animals do the things they do? In this course, we will explore how ecological forces drive the evolution of animal behavior. We will start by discussing the fundamental theoretical toolkit used to form robust hypotheses about animal behaviors, including basic concepts drawn from the study of evolutionary biology and ecology. We will then use these tools to explore diverse behavioral topics from mating and parental care, to communication and social behavior, to foraging and predation. We will be reading and discussing research, as well as history and philosophy, from the field. Students will have the opportunity to build their own behavior-based study over the course of the semester.


Animal Communication

Open, Seminar—Spring

From the haunting howls of wolves to the rainbow colors of tropical fish, the world is alive with the sounds, smells, and sights of animals talking to each other. Animals communicate for many reasons—from sharing information about potential predators, to negotiating access to food, to deciding whether or not to raise offspring together. In this course, we will discuss how animal signals evolve; how they work; and what makes them look, sound, smell, feel, and taste the way they do. To answer these questions, we will examine the goals and interests of signalers and receivers, how signals are shaped by the environments they move through, and why they are so often sensory experiences beyond what humans can see and hear. We will also discuss how the cultures and experiences of the scientists who study these questions have both guided and constrained our understanding of animal signals.