Categories
Research

An evolutionary experiment: when did wolves become dogs and what comes next?

When did wolves become dogs?

What evolutionary and developmental processes are involved in creating physical variation?

Is selection responsible for moulding the diversity of life?

Or does developmental bias via drive and constraint determine how animal shapes change?

Abby Drake is interested in the processes that produce macroevolution and dictate which physical appearances, evolve and which do not.

She is especially interested in learning how species evolve: What mechanisms produce enough physical or behavioural change to ensure reproductive isolation on the population level?

To this end, she studies developmental processes that lead to large modifications of morphology, using variation in vertebrate skulls to answer these questions.

Abby uses three-dimensional scan data to capture each specimen’s 3D geometry.

This type of data allows her team to look at the shape of the skull holistically using a sophisticated shape analysis called geometric morphometrics.

While she also works on cetaceans, owls and primates, this episode focuses on her extensive work examining canids: when did wolves become dogs, how have we shaped them, and where might they go in the future?

Podcast

Images

Dog vs wolf skull shapes
Dog vs wolf skull shapes

Video

A thin-plate spline warping of a wolf skull into a French Bulldog. Data are from Drake, A.G. and Klingenberg C.P. 2010.

Publications

Dr Abby Drake - When did wolves become dogs?
Dr. Abby Drake

Drake, A. G., Coquerelle, M., & Colombeau, G. (2015). 3D morphometric analysis of fossil canid skulls contradicts the suggested domestication of dogs during the late PaleolithicScientific reports5.

Drake, A. G. (2011). Dispelling dog dogma: an investigation of heterochrony in dogs using 3D geometric morphometric analysis of skull shape [PDF]. Evolution & Development, 13(2), 204-213. **If you download and open this pdf with Adobe Reader 9 or higher you can rotate and magnify the skulls in the figures.

Drake, A. G., & Klingenberg, C. P. (2010). Large‐scale diversification of skull shape in domestic dogs: disparity and modularity. The American Naturalist, 175(3), 289-301.

Drake, A. G., & Klingenberg, C. P. (2008). The pace of morphological change: historical transformation of skull shape in St Bernard dogs. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 275(1630), 71-76. http://www.skidmore.edu/biology/faculty/ProcRSoc2008.pdf

Links

Abby Drake: ResearchGate Profile

Abby Drake on Twitter: @AbbyGraceDrake

Daily Mail (UK): 30,000 year-old fossil of the oldest dog turns out to be a wolf

CBS News: When did dogs become man’s best friend?

Biologist Drake helps answer key question in canine history: Skidmore College News

Categories
Animal Welfare Cognition Management Research Wildlife

Do fish feel pain? Diving in to the deep end of fish welfare

Do fish really feel pain?

You might assume yes, but you’d be wrong.

Kind of.

You see – it’s complicated.

Dr. Ben Diggles has worked with government, aquaculture industry, recreational fisheries, and commercial fisheries throughout New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

Ben’s core work includes import risk analysis, fish and shellfish health, fish welfare, development of feeding attractants for aquaculture, and development of medicated feeds for aquacultured finfish.

In his spare time Ben studies the effects of declining water quality on our estuaries, and is active in his local community developing solutions to these problems, like Oyster Reef Restoration.

In this episode, we catch up on the latest scientific findings relating to fish pain and learn more about the Ikijime  method for killing fish captured for eating.

So let’s find out if fish feel pain.

Podcast

Publications

How to ikijime fish with Dr. Ben Diggles
Dr. Ben Diggles – How to ikijime fish

Rose, J. D., Arlinghaus, R., Cooke, S. J., Diggles, B. K., Sawynok, W., Stevens, E. D., & Wynne, C. D. L. (2014). Can fish really feel pain?. Fish and Fisheries, 15(1), 97-133

Diggles, B. K., Cooke, S. J., Rose, J. D., & Sawynok, W. (2011). Ecology and welfare of aquatic animals in wild capture fisheries. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 21(4), 739-765.

Diggles, B. K. (2013). Historical epidemiology indicates water quality decline drives loss of oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) reefs in Moreton Bay, Australia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 47(4), 561-581.

See more of Dr Ben Diggles’ publications here

Ben also writes monthly columns on fish biology for the Australian Anglers Fishing World Magazine (since 1995) and Sport Fishing Magazine (since March 2003)

Ikijime tool Australia

Ikijime Tool app via iTunes

Ikijime Tool app for Android via Google Play

Links

Ikijime website

DigsFish Services (Dr Ben Diggles) website

Grey matter matters when it comes to feeling pain (University of Queensland) – do fish feel pain?

Video – How to ikijime fish

How to care for your catch – ikijime & do fish feel pain?

Header image: Flickr/phwff-nova

Categories
Health Pets Psychology Research

Just walking the dog: what promotes healthy humans?

Did you know scientists are studying the ways that you walk your dog?

What motivates you, how long you exercise for, what features (like footpaths and dog parks) promote human activity – all these questions and more, are being studied by researchers, Hayley Christian and Carri Westgarth.

Hayley’s background in human health teamed with Carri’s expertise in canine behaviour and welfare have created a research team exploring the human, dog and environmental factors that best promote active and healthy communities.

Podcast

Publications

Dog walking benefits! Dr Carri Westgarth & Dr Hayley Christian
Dr. Carri Westgarth & Dr. Hayley Christian

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How might we increase physical activity through dog walking?: A comprehensive review of dog walking correlatesInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity11(1), 83. [PDF]

Christian, H., Trapp, G., Villanueva, K., Zubrick, S. R., Koekemoer, R., & Giles-Corti, B. (2014). Dog walking is associated with more outdoor play and independent mobility for childrenPreventive medicine67, 259-263.

Westgarth, C., Christley, R. M., & Christian, H. E. (2014). How can we motivate owners to walk their dogs more? Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research9(6), e6-e7.

Christian, H. E., Westgarth, C., Bauman, A., Richards, E. A., Rhodes, R., Evenson, K. R., & Thorpe, R. J. (2013). Dog ownership and physical activity: a review of the evidence. J Phys Act Health10(5), 750-759.

Westgarth, C., Boddy, L. M., Stratton, G., German, A. J., Gaskell, R. M., Coyne, K. P., & Dawson, S. (2013). A cross-sectional study of frequency and factors associated with dog walking in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UKBMC public health13(1), 822.

Morrison, R., Reilly, J. J., Penpraze, V., Westgarth, C., Ward, D. S., Mutrie, N., & Yam, P. S. (2013). Children, parents and pets exercising together (CPET): exploratory randomised controlled trialBMC public health13(1), 1096.

Christian, H., Giles-Corti, B., & Knuiman, M. (2010). “I’m Just a’‐Walking the Dog” Correlates of Regular Dog WalkingFamily & community health33(1), 44-52.

For more publications, please see the researcher’s university profiles below.

Links

Hayley Christian: University of Western Australia profile

Carri Westgarth: University of Liverpool (UK) profile

Header image: Flickr/Stefan Mortellaro

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
Management Research Technology Wildlife

A Game of Drones: Using Drones in Conservation

When someone turns a fun hobby into a game changing tool for good, it’s inspirational!

That’s exactly what Lian Pin Koh has achieved in bringing affordable drone technology to aid conservation scientists.

A tropical ecologist by training, Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh received his PhD from Princeton University, where he studied the environmental and policy implications of oil-palm development in Southeast Asia.

He then spent several years researching key scientific and policy issues concerning tropical deforestation and its impacts on carbon emissions and biodiversity while based in Zurich.

Lian Pin currently leads the Applied Ecology & Conservation group at The University of Adelaide in South Australia, where they ultimately seek to do good for society.

In this episode, we speak with Lian Pin and learn about his exciting work using drones in conservation.

Podcast

Videos

Lian Pin Koh – A drone’s eye view of conservation
Using drones in conservation

Images

Publications

Lian Pin Koh - Using drones in conservation
Assoc. Prof. Lian Pin Koh

Koh, L. P., & Wich, S. A. (2012). Dawn of drone ecology: low-cost autonomous aerial vehicles for conservation. Tropical Conservation Science, 5(2), 121-132. [PDF]

Koh, L. P. (2013, June). Brave new world of drone technology for biodiversity research and conservation. In New Frontiers in Tropical Biology: The Next 50 Years (A Joint Meeting of ATBC and OTS). Atbc. [PDF]

Paneque-Gálvez, J., McCall, M. K., Napoletano, B. M., Wich, S. A., & Koh, L. P. (2014). Small drones for community-based forest monitoring: an assessment of their feasibility and potential in tropical areas. Forests, 5(6), 1481-1507.

See more:

Lian Pin Koh on Google Scholar

Lian Pin Koh on Research Gate

Links

ConservationDrones.org official website

Conservation Drones on Flickr (images)

Conservation Drones on Facebook


All images used with Permission: Lian Pin Koh

Categories
Anthropology Cognition Research Wildlife

Gestures & communication: chimpanzees have a point

Imagine deciphering the first form of intentional communication to be recorded in the animal kingdom, such as how chimpanzees communicate.

That’s exactly what Dr. Catherine Hobaiter has done after years of following wild chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest of Uganda, Africa.

She studies the evolution, acquisition and flexibility of communication and social behaviour, in particular through long-term field studies of wild chimpanzees.

For the past seven years, Cat has been working as a primatologist at a forest research-station in Uganda to better understand chimpanzee communication and behavior.

She hopes to to advance our understanding of great ape communication, and in addition, by looking at areas of overlap or species specific traits, she hopes to also gain an understanding of the evolutionary origins of language.

In this episode, we learn from Cat about her exciting observations of a communication system where animals don’t just share information through behaviour, but deliberately send messages of meaning to each other.

Listen in, and you’ll find out exactly how how chimpanzees communicate.

Podcast

How chimpanzees communicate

How chimpanzees communicate
How chimpanzees communicate

Publications

Dr. Catherine Hobaiter - Studying how chimpanzees communicate
Dr. Catherine Hobaiter – Studying how chimpanzees communicate

Hobaiter, C., & Byrne, R. W. (2011). The gestural repertoire of the wild chimpanzee. Animal cognition, 14(5), 745-767. [PDF]

Hobaiter, C., & Byrne, R. W. (2011). Serial gesturing by wild chimpanzees: its nature and function for communication. Animal cognition, 14(6), 827-838.

Hobaiter, C. L., & Byrne, R. W. (2012). Gesture use in consortship: wild chimpanzees’ use of gesture for an ‘evolutionarily urgent’purpose. Developments in Primate Gesture Research. [PDF]

Hobaiter, C., & Byrne, R. W. (2013). Laterality in the gestural communication of wild chimpanzees. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1288(1), 9-16. [PDF]

Hobaiter, C., & Byrne, R. W. (2014). The meanings of chimpanzee gesturesCurrent Biology24(14), 1596-1600. [PDF]

Links

University of St Andrews Profile: Cat Hobaiter

Follow Cat Hobaiter on Twitter: @NakedPrimate

Budongo Conservation Field Station

School of Psychology & Neuroscience at St Andrews University in Scotland

All images and media by Catherine Hobaiter, used with permission.

Categories
Animal Welfare Community Research

Horse racing’s big hit: why use whips on horses?

Why are whips used in horse racing?

Do whips make horses run faster or win races?

Are jockeys using whips to steer and stay safe, or are they simply whipping tired horses?

These are questions that prompted Professor Paul McGreevy of the University of Sydney to research the use of whips in horse racing.

Paul is recognised by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as a specialist in Veterinary Behavioural Medicine.

His research focuses on the behaviour and welfare of horses and dogs, and he is the author of six books and over 120 peer-reviewed articles on animal behaviour.

Paul’s award-winning research examining the use of whips in horse racing aims to further our awareness of the experience of horses, extending to a recent experiment capturing the thermographic effects of his own leg being hit with a padded whip.

As the Spring horse racing carnival hits its peak in Melbourne, Australia this week, we asked Paul to discuss his findings and what it means for horses, beyond the glamour and excitement of race day.

Podcast

Publications

Paul McGreevy - Why are whips used in horse racing?
Paul McGreevy – Why are whips used in horse racing?

Thomson, P., Hayek, A., Jones, B., Evans, D., McGreevy, P. (2014). Number, causes and destinations of horses leaving the Australian Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing industriesAustralian Veterinary Journal, 92(8), 303-311.

McGreevy, P., Caspar, G., Evans, D. (2013). A pilot investigation into the opinions and beliefs of Australian, British, and Irish jockeys. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research, 8(2), 100-105.

McGreevy, P., Hawson, L., Salvin, H., McLean, A. (2013). A note on the force of whip impacts delivered by jockeys using forehand and backhand strikes. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research, 8(5), 395-399.

McGreevy, P., Ralston, L. (2012). The distribution of whipping of Australian Thoroughbred racehorses in the penultimate 200 m of races is influenced by jockeys’ experience. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research, 7(3), 186-190.

McGreevy, P., Corken, R., Salvin, H., Black, C. (2012). Whip Use by Jockeys in a Sample of Australian Thoroughbred Races – An Observational Study. PLoS One, 7(3), 1-6. [Open Access]

Evans, D., McGreevy, P. (2011). An Investigation of Racing Performance and Whip Use by Jockeys in Thoroughbred RacesPLoS One, 6(1), 1-5. [Open Access]

McGreevy, P., Oddie, C. (2011). Holding the whip hand – a note on the distribution of jockeys’ whip hand preferences in Australian Thoroughbred racing. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: clinical applications and research, 6(5), 287-289.

Paul McGreevy: Google Scholar profile with further publications

Links

Paul McGreevy: University of Sydney

The Conversation:  Whips hurt horses – if my leg’s anything to go by

RSPCA Australia position on racehorse whips

Header image used with permission © Liss Ralston

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
Animal Welfare Pets Research

Wild behaviour: the science of why cats like boxes

Sandra McCune holds a PhD that examined the temperament and welfare of caged cats as well as qualifications in vet nursing and zoology. She knows the answer to why cats like boxes, and the science behind it.

In her current role as the Scientific Leader for Human-Animal Interaction at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, she manages a large portfolio of collaborative research projects.

These projects cover many aspects of human-animal interaction, in countries including US, UK, Austria, Germany, Sweden and Australia.

In addition to having written research papers and book chapters on several aspects of cat behaviour, cognition, welfare and nutrition, Sandra has lectured and advised many animal shelters, ethologists, animal welfarists, and groups of vets and vet nurses.

Sandra is sought out as a voice within industry and regularly speaks at international conferences on pet ownership issues and the bond between people and pets.

Today we’re talking to Sandra about pet cats, their incomplete domestication, our attachment to them and the behavioural links between wild big cats, and the cat in your home.

We also find out why cats like boxes!

Podcast

Books

Sandra McCune - why cats like boxes
Sandra McCune

McCune, S. (2010) Book chapter: ‘The domestic cat’. In: The UFAW handbook on the care and management of laboratory animals. 8th edition. Longman Scientific & Technical, Harlow.

McCardle, P, McCune, S, Griffin, J A and Maholmes, V (Eds.) (2011) How Animals Affect Us: Examining the Influence of Human-Animal Interaction on Child Development and Human HealthWashington, DC: American Psychological Association Press. 2011

Kurt Kotrschal, Jon Day, Sandra McCune and Manuela Wedl (2013) Human and cat personalities: building the bond from both sides. Chapter 9 In: Dennis Turner and Pat Bateson (Editors) The domestic Cat: The biology of its behaviour. CUP, Cambridge

Publications

Sandra McCune, Katherine A. Kruger, James A. Griffin, Layla Esposito, Lisa S. Freund, Karyl J. Hurley, and Regina Bures. (2014) Evolution of research into the mutual benefits of human–animal interactionAnimal Frontiers vol. 4 no. 3 49-5

Carri Westgarth, Lynne M Boddy, Gareth Stratton, Alexander J German, Rosalind M Gaskell, Karen P Coyne, Peter Bundred, Sandra McCune and Susan Dawson. (2013) Pet ownership, dog types and attachment to pets in 9–10 year old children in Liverpool, UK. BMC Veterinary Research, 9:102

Sandra McCune (1995)The impact of paternity and early socialisation on the development of cats’ behaviour to people and novel objects. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 45(1–2): 111–126.

Links

Waltham Human-Animal Interaction Research

Waltham Science Publications & Resources

Video – Why cats like boxes

Why cats like boxes

Header image via Flickr:klengel

Categories
Pets Research

Free roaming cats: attack of the unknowns

In Part 2 (catch up on Part 1 here) of our conversation with Mark Farnworth of Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand, we learn what the scientific research can tell us about the success of methods to control free roaming (owned and unowned) cat populations – and what it can’t.

We talk about Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) versus lethal control, where does responsibility lie and can an effective population management compromise be reached without all the facts?

Podcast

Links

Free roaming cat laws Australia
Free roaming cats

Mark Farnworth: Research Gate Profile

Unitec: Dept of Environmental and Animal Sciences

G2Z Australia National Cat Action Plan:
Draft currently seeking feedback


Image credit: Flickr/TomPoes