Aggregating animal welfare indicators: can it be done in a transparent and ethically robust way?

A central aim of animal welfare science is to be able to compare the effects of different ways of keeping, managing or treating animals based on welfare indicators. A system to aggregate the different indicators is therefore needed. However, developing such a system gives rise to serious challenges. Here, we focus specifically on the ethical […]

New communal roosting tradition established through experimental translocation in a Neotropical harvestman

‘Tradition’ has been invoked to explain instances in which animals aggregate repeatedly in the same locations for no apparent reason, but alternative explanations, such as cryptic habitat selection, are difficult to rule out. Distinguishing among these hypotheses requires field experiments. We studied a species of harvestman (Prionostemma sp.) that forages solitarily at night and forms […]

Forest elephants: fission–fusion and social arenas

Fission–fusion systems provide models for studying grouping decisions and social complexity in a range of taxa, as individuals act to manage risks and enhance reproductive success. African savannah elephants, Loxodonta africana africana, live in a fluid society where individual relationships persist over decades and affect reproductive success. Social structures have yet to be fully characterized […]

Taking the aggravation out of data aggregation: A conceptual guide to dealing with statistical issues related to the pooling of individual-level observational data

Field data often include multiple observations taken from the same individual. In order to avoid pseudoreplication, it is commonplace to aggregate data, generating a mean score per individual, and then using these aggregated data in subsequent analyses. Aggregation, however, can generate problems of its own. Not only does it lead to a loss of information, […]

New insights into the huddling dynamics of emperor penguins

Social thermoregulation is a cooperative strategy in which animals actively aggregate to benefit from the warmth of conspecifics in response to low ambient temperatures. Emperor penguins, Aptenodytes forsteri, use this behaviour to ensure their survival and reproduction during the Antarctic winter. An emperor penguin colony consists of a dynamic mosaic of compact zones, the so-called […]

Assessment of behavior and physical condition of shelter cats as animal-based indicators of welfare

Surveillance of cat shelters by official veterinarians in Austria is based on legal requirements and does not directly assess cat welfare. The aim of this study was to develop animal-based parameters that are feasible to measure in a surveillance setting, stable over time, and reproducible by different raters. We assessed physical condition (body condition, eye […]

Assessing Animal Welfare Impacts in the Management of European Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), European Moles (Talpa europaea) and Carrion Crows (Corvus corone)

Human-wildlife conflict is a global issue. Attempts to manage this conflict impact upon wild animal welfare, an issue receiving little attention until relatively recently. Where human activities harm animal welfare these effects should be minimised where possible. However, little is known about the welfare impacts of different wildlife management interventions, and opinions on impacts vary […]