Behavioural biology in animal welfare science
Organised by Professor Mike Mendl and Dr Suzanne Held
Understanding why animals behave in the ways they do is fundamental to our efforts to assess and improve their welfare. The scientific study of animal welfare therefore employs all of Niko Tinbergen’s ‘Four Whys’ and touches on some of the most exciting and challenging questions in behavioural biology, psychology and neuroscience. How is behaviour motivated and controlled, how does the captive environment interfere with these processes to generate puzzling phenomena such as abnormal repetitive behaviour, and can we use changes in behaviour to detect and predict welfare problems? If welfare is primarily determined by an animal’s emotional state, how can we conceptualise and measure such states, and are they consciously experienced? How do cognitive abilities and personality differences influence an animal’s ability to cope with challenge, and how are they affected by gene-environment interplay during the process of development? Can principles of adaptation and optimality be used to predict how animals behave in captivity and how such behaviour can be controlled to improve welfare, and what aspects of species’ evolutionary history and current niche influence how they adjust to life in captivity? This meeting will explore these and other questions and showcase the range of exciting work that is going on in modern animal welfare science.
The meeting will be held at the Zoological Society of London, Huxley Lecture Theatre, London Zoo on 6-7 December 2018. As is traditional for the winter meeting, there is no registration and delegates will need to organise their own accommodation and main meals. Tea and coffee will be provided both days, along with a wine reception on the first evening. The meeting will host the 2018 Tinbergen lecture and invited plenary speakers. More information will be available in due course.