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Understanding animals: behavior and welfare entangled

welfare wild animals behavioural ecology

Animal welfare research demonstrates that behavior is significantly influenced by an animal’s subjective experiences. Thus, understanding an animal's welfare can help understand its behavior and vice versa. Animal welfare science frequently uses behavioral data to assess the welfare of animals, but has traditionally focused on companion or farmed animals. While the behavior of free-ranging wild animals is well studied, currently studies seeking to also understand their welfare are rare. The emerging science of wild animal welfare fills this gap by understanding how wild animals experience life, and investigating whether humans can do anything to improve their welfare. In this Animal Behavior Live Seminar, we will introduce the fundamental principles of wild animal welfare science, and demonstrate its importance for animal behavior research. Through a variety of case studies, speakers will demonstrate the interconnectedness between welfare and behavior, including the relationship between behavior and subjective experience, and several ways in which behavioral data is being used to evaluate wild animal welfare. Finally, we will explore opportunities and offer suggestions for how to integrate welfare assessments into existing behavioral ecology research on wild animals.

Dr Bonnie Flint
Wild Animal Initiative
Dr Heather Browning
Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Southampton, UK
Dr Daniel Hanley
Assistant Professor of Biology at George Mason University, USA
Dr Andrea Harvey
Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology Sydney, Australia