Categories
Behaviour Cognition Pets Research

Is your dog optimistic? Cognitive bias in animals

Does your pet have a glass half full, or glass half empty take on life?

It’s a recent discovery that many animals can be optimistic or pessimistic based on their experiences.

Dr. Melissa Starling holds a Bachelor of Science in Zoology and recently gained her PhD from the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney with a topic that covered elements of dog behaviour, personality, emotions and cognition.

She has long had a passion for animal behaviour and animal training that has intensified as she learns more.

In this episode, we talk to Mel about her PhD research investigating optimism and pessimism – or cognitive bias – in dogs.

Podcast

Publications

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Developing an optimism index using results from a cognitive bias taskJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e17-e18.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., Starling, T. R., & McGreevy, P. D. (2014). Canine Sense and Sensibility: Tipping Points and Response Latency Variability as an Optimism Index in a Canine Judgement Bias AssessmentPloS one9(9), e107794.

Starling, M. J., Branson, N., Cody, D., & McGreevy, P. D. (2013). Conceptualising the Impact of Arousal and Affective State on Training Outcomes of Operant ConditioningAnimals3(2), 300-317.

McGreevy, P. D., Starling, M., Branson, N. J., Cobb, M. L., & Calnon, D. (2012). An overview of the dog–human dyad and ethograms within itJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research7(2), 103-117.

Dr Melissa Starling - Cognitive Bias in Dogs
Dr Melissa Starling – Cognitive Bias in Dogs

Links

Melissa Starling on Twitter (@dogoptimism)

Creature Teacher (personal website)

Dog Optimism on ABC Catalyst

Video – Optimism in Dogs (Melissa Starling)

Optimism in Dogs

Cover image: Flickr/hoodsie

Categories
Behaviour Cognition

Emotions, memory and social networks – of Goats

“Do goats have emotions?” is something rarely searched for on Google, but if you think about it, it’s a very good question.

The answer is yes, goats do have emotions.

Believe it or not, they also have social networks, puzzle solving skills, and impressive long term memories?

We’re not even kidding! Alan McElligott is based at the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at the Queen Mary University of London, where he and his team research cattle, fallow deer, and goats.

In this episode, we talk about their recent work, and how it contributes to improved understanding of animal behaviour and behavioural ecology, raising important considerations for animal husbandry and welfare of goats in companion animal, livestock and pest contexts.

It’s time to learn about the emotions of goats!

Podcast

Publications

Dr. Alan McElligott - Do goats have emotions?
Dr. Alan McElligott

Briefer, E. F., Tettamanti, F., & McElligott, A. G. (2015). Emotions in goats: mapping physiological, behavioural and vocal profiles. Animal Behaviour99, 131-143.

Briefer, E. F., Haque, S., Baciadonna, L., & McElligott, A. G. (2014). Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task. Frontiers in zoology, 11(1), 20.

Briefer, E. F., & McElligott, A. G. (2013). Rescued goats at a sanctuary display positive mood after former neglect. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 146(1), 45-55.

Briefer, E. F., de la Torre, M. P., & McElligott, A. G. (2012). Mother goats do not forget their kids’ calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0986.

Alan McElligott: Google Scholar profile with further publications

Links

Alan McElligott: research website

Alan McElligott on Twitter

Goats, the boffins of the farmyard (BioMed Central)

Happy goats: How animal rehab works (BBC News)


Header image: Flickr/tcmorgan

Categories
Behaviour Research

The importance of bees: more than honey

Ever wondered why you should care about bees?

Here’s a fact: bees are responsible for the successful production of around a third of the food you eat.

As one of our oldest domesticated animals, bees and people share an amazing history.

But the future is uncertain, with devastating global declines in both feral and managed populations.

Boris Baer and Barbara Baer-Imhoof, in conjunction with their colleagues at the Centre for Integrative Bee Research at the University of Western Australia, are researching many aspects of honey bees, in the field and in the lab.

In our first episode featuring an invertebrate species, we learn more about our relationship with bees, what would happen if they vanish and ways we can help them thrive.

Podcast

Video – More Than Honey Trailer

Bees! More than Honey trailer

Publications

Boris Baer & Barbara Baer-Imhoof – The importance of bees. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

Stuerup, M., Baer-Imhoof, B., Nash, D. R., Boomsma, J. J. & Baer, B. When every sperm counts: factors affecting male fertility in the honeybee Apis mellifera, . Behav. Ecol. 24(5): 1192-1198. View online at Behavioral Ecology.

Baer, B. (2009) CIBER: A new research initiative for the study of honeybees in Western Australia. The Australian Beekeeper. 111:16-17. 

Imhoof B., Schmid-Hempel, P. 1999. Colony success of the bumble bee, Bombus terrestris, in relation to infections by two protozoan parasites, Crithidia bombi and Nosema bombi. Insectes Sociaux 46: 233-238.

Links

Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER)

CIBER on Facebook


Header image: Flickr/StephenBegin

Categories
Behaviour

Aggressive behaviour in dogs: science that bites

Dr Rachel Casey is a veterinary surgeon, animal behaviourist and welfare scientist working at the University of Bristol Veterinary School in the United Kingdom.

Rachel has a PhD in animal behaviour and leads a research group investigating aspects of companion animal behaviour and welfare.

Her recent research on aggressive behaviour in dogs has highlighted important new information regarding prevalence, risk factors and occurrence in difference contexts.

The findings might not be what you expect.

Podcast

Links

Rachel Casey’s Blog: Reigning Cats and Dogs

Follow Rachel on Twitter:  @DrRachelCasey

Publications

Casey, RA, Loftus, BA, Bolster, C, Richards, GJ & Blackwell, E-J 2013, ‘Inter-dog aggression in a UK owner survey: prevalence, co-occurrence in different contexts and risk factors’Veterinary Record, vol 172.

Casey, RA, Loftus, BA, Bolster, C, Richards, GJ & Blackwell, E-J 2013, ‘Human directed aggression in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): occurrence in different contexts and risk factors’Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Bradshaw, J, Blackwell, E & Casey, R 2009,Dominance in domestic dogs: useful construct or bad habit?’Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, vol 4., pp. 135 – 144

Why do dogs bite? The science behind aggressive behaviour in dogs

Image credit: Flickr/FredArmitage

Categories
Behaviour Pets

A duty of care: shelter dog rehoming assessments + science

In this episode, Kate Mornement, PhD candidate from the Anthrozoology Research Group and Monash University, talks to Mia and Tim about her research exploring the science of shelter dog assessments for rehoming suitability.

Shelter dog rehoming is a topic with significant outcomes for everyone: our communities, shelter staff, and of course – the dogs.

Podcast

How many dogs are in shelters in Australia?

In Australia we do not have a national system for tracking the number of dogs in animal shelters or municipal council pounds.

An estimated 200,000 or more dogs enter a pound or shelter annually in Australia, and many of these dogs (approximately one in three) are euthanised.

Links

What Do Current and Potential Australian Dog Owners Believe about Shelter Practices and Shelter Dogs? (2012) Anthrozoos 25 (4): 457-473

A Review of Behavioral Assessment Protocols Used by Australian Animal Shelters to Determine the Adoption Suitability of Dogs (2010) Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science 13(4): 314-329

Development of the Behavioural Assessment for Re-homing K9′s (B.A.R.K.) Protocol (2014) Applied Animal Behaviour Science 151: 75-83. 

Image credit: Flickr/DustinQuasar