Behavioral Research Blog

Free-choice digital interactive enrichment and human-animal interaction

Posted by Guest blogger on Feb 6, 2017

Read this guest blog post about an Australian National University PhD research at the Seoul Zoo by Nicky Kim-McCormack and colleagues. 

Measuring changes in captive great ape welfare and conservation attitudes

 

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, animal welfare, media recorder, apes, visitor response, IP Cameras

Prof. Berry Spruijt says goodbye (but not really)

Posted by G. Smit on Apr 21, 2015

Did you discover something new today? This was the question Prof. Berry Spruijt used to get from his kids on a daily basis. As little ones, they might have expected their father to come home with the Nobel Prize every day.

While we normally focus on a specific study or type of research or research tools, today’s post is a little different. Prof. Dr. Berry M. Spruijt recently retired from his position at Utrecht University. I had the honor of attending the symposium that was organized to reflect on and celebrate his career.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, animal behavior research, animal welfare, PhenoTyper, UltraVox XT

The impact of visitor access in a shelter on the welfare of shelter dogs

Posted by Julie Harrison on Jul 31, 2014

If you’ve ever been to a shelter to adopt a dog, you know that when you walk into the holding area, the dogs can get very noisy. At the introduction of a stranger to the room their kennels are in, the dogs will start barking, which encourages the other dogs around them to bark as well. Barking has been documented as a stressor for dog, as have repetitive behavior and lots of movement. All of these behaviors seem to increase by the access of visitors to the kennel area. Lynn Hewison and colleagues decided to investigate if preventing visitor access to the dogs could lower stress levels and therefore increase general welfare of the animals.

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, dogs, coding schemes, animal welfare, stress research

5 reasons why you should go to Measuring Behavior 2014

Posted by Andrew Spink on Jul 14, 2014

Measuring Behavior is an international multidisciplinary conference which takes place every two years. This August it is in Wageningen, in the Netherlands. If you are a behavioral researcher, you really ought to attend. Why?

1.    The diverse, multidisciplinary program. The scientific program contains contributions focusing on purely scientific aspects (issues of replicability, dynamic aspects of behavior) and applied research (animal welfare), human behavior (eye trackers in consumer research) and animal (rodent behavior), technical sessions (video tracking of social animals and recognition of human behaviors from video), sessions presenting the latest technology (3D simulators) and topics that are of relevance to everyone (eating behavior of people). The above list just scratches the surface of what promises to be a very diverse and interesting three days.

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Topics: animal behavior research, emotion recognition, animal welfare, methods and techniques, Automating behavioral observations, human behavior research, consumer behavior, behavioral research, measuring behavior, conferences

The welfare of therapy dogs

Posted by Julie Harrison on Jun 25, 2014

As anyone who owns a pet could probably tell you, animals are great comforts to their human partners. The relationship between animal and human can go beyond just pet and owner, however, and become a therapeutic relationship. For example, dogs have been used with adult substance abuse patients in animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Why use dogs in therapy? They can be a good motivator for participation in an intervention and become a source of trust and comfort to the patient, thus improving the chance of therapy success. There has been a lot of research done on the impact that using dogs in therapy can have on humans. But what about the effect it has on the welfare of the dogs?

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal-human interaction, dogs, animal welfare

How to measure emotions in pigs

Posted by G. Smit on Jun 23, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about why social pigs do better. This week, one of the researchers in this project, Inonge Reimert explains about the novel object/novel environment test they performed.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, The Observer XT, animal welfare, pigs, emotions

Why social pigs do better

Posted by G. Smit on Jan 28, 2014

And how to study their behavior in great detail

If you want to get on in life, is it better to make friends, or should you trample down the competition? Maybe we can learn something from animals… Take hens for example, we probably all know what a ‘pecking order’ is. As a hen, if you don’t peck back, you will definitely loose out. On the other hand, if you are a pig, being social will get you somewhere. In fact, studies show that social pigs are healthier and grow better, and having social pen mates also has these positive effects.

Reimert et al. wanted to look at the behavior of social pigs more closely. In their recent study (published Applied Animal Behaviour Science), they used both video tracking and scoring of behavior to assess behavior in a combined novel location and novel object test.

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Topics: EthoVision XT, The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, video observation, coding schemes, animal welfare, tracking, anxiety research, pigs, ethogram, Pocket Observer

Standing cows

Posted by Andrew Spink on Sep 25, 2013

Does it matter how much time a cow spends standing up or lying down?  Bert Tolkamp thought that it did matter, and last week he proved his point by winning an IgNobel prize [1] for his work on this [2]. He attached a sensor to the legs of some cows and measured tens of thousands of episodes of lying and standing. His findings were at first sight puzzling and on reflection, revealing (hence the prize). If a cow was lying for a long time, it was more likely to stand up, but it if had been standing for a long time, it was not more likely to lie down.

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Topics: animal welfare, GPS, Precision farming, TrackLab, Cows

The future of farming

Posted by Andrew Spink on Aug 9, 2013

Precision farming
GPS has always seemed to me to be a kind of magic technology.  The idea that a grid of satellites so far above my head that I cannot even see them can tell me exactly where I am and help give me directions where to go is pretty stupendous. And you do not even have to pay for the information! GPS is such a powerful technology that it is being applied to a great diversity of areas. One example is precision agriculture. For instance, if you are growing crops, they will often need water, pesticides and fertilizer.  If you don’t give them enough they will have a reduced yield and if you give them too much you spend too much money and you might cause pollution. The image on the right [1] shows a crop that needs watering.  But only the red areas are dry. So if that data is fed into a GIS databank and that is coupled to a GPS receiver on the irrigation system, the farmer will know precisely where to give water (or chemicals) so that the crop gets the right amount and there is minimal waste and runoff.

 

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Topics: animal behavior research, behavioral patterns, animal welfare, GPS, Precision farming, TrackLab, tracking, foraging behavior, precision agriculture

Unraveling primate behavior, why do monkeys rub their fur?

Posted by Olga Krips on Jul 30, 2012

Did you know that tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) rub their fur vigorously with substances such as leaves, fruit, or insects? Such substances are often insecticidal, antiseptic, or anti-inflammatory. Therefore, fur rubbing may improve fur condition along with having a medical function.

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Topics: The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, animal welfare, ethogram, primate, monkey, Pocket Observer

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