Behavioral, demographic, and management influences on equine responses to negative reinforcement

Understanding the factors that influence horse learning is critical to ensure horse welfare and rider safety. In this study, data were obtained from horses (n = 96) training to step backward through a corridor in response to bit pressure. After training, learning ability was determined by the latency to step backward through the corridor when handled […]

Does environmental enrichment affect the behaviour of fish commonly used in laboratory work?

Housing conditions can have significant effects on the behaviour and physiology of captive animals. Enriching barren environments, for example by providing structural complexity or companionship, are generally considered beneficial as they can decrease the occurrence of abnormal behaviours and physiology and as such, it is argued that enrichment helps to improve welfare for captive animals […]

Evaluating the Addition of Positive Reinforcement for Learning a Frightening Task: A Pilot Study With Horses

Horse training often relies upon negative reinforcement (NR). This study tested the hypothesis that adding positive reinforcement (PR) to NR would enhance learning in horses (n = 34) being taught to walk over a tarp (novel/typically frightening task). Subjects were Arabians, and the same person handled all of them. This person handled half “traditionally” (NR […]

Variables Influencing the Origins of Diverse Abnormal Behaviors in a Large Sample of Captive Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes)

The developmental origin of abnormal behaviors is generally associated with early rearing environments that lack sufficient physical and sensory stimulation. However, other factors should also be considered. A large sample of captive chimpanzees (128 males and 140 females) was surveyed for the presence or absence of 18 abnormal behaviors. Origin variables included the subject’s source […]

Smart behaviour in a variable world


Rapid solving of a problem apparatus by juvenile black-throated monitor lizards (Varanus albigularis albigularis)

It is widely accepted that providing stimulus enrichment is an important part of the development and maintenance of behavior and well being in mammals. However, extending this idea to non-avian reptiles has barely been explored, certainly as an aid to cognitive development. Monitor lizards have a reputation for being highly curious and intelligent lizards, but […]

Sensory Ecology of Feeding in the Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum (Lepidoptera: Sphingidae)

The European hummingbird hawkmoth, Macroglossum stellatarum (Linnaeus 1758), drinks nectar while hovering in front of flowers of all colours, odours, sizes and shapes. Naive moths orient predominantly towards visual stimuli and prefer blue flowers with a radial pattern and a central contrasting spot. Hummingbird hawkmoths have trichromatic colour vision and can learn any colour and […]

Of tongues and noses: chemoreception in lizards and snakes

Lizards and snakes inhabit a world so richly textured in chemical information that, as primates, we can only imagine it. Subtle nuances of chemical shading underline nearly every fundamental activity of their lives, from finding foot to finding mates. Recent work examines the nature of these chemical messages, mechanisms for their perception, the interplay of […]

A critical review of chronic stress effects on spatial learning and memory

The purpose of this review is to evaluate the effects of chronic stress on hippocampal-dependent function, based primarily upon studies using young, adult male rodents and spatial navigation tasks. Despite this restriction, variability amongst the findings was evident and how or even whether chronic stress influenced spatial ability depended upon the type of task, the […]

Domestic animals’ fear of humans and its effect on their welfare

Many studies on pigs, poultry, and dairy cattle have shown that rough or aversive handling of farm animals by people can substantially reduce the animals’ productivity and welfare. Some of this effect occurs because the animals become afraid, either of people in general, or of specific individuals as a result of aversive handling. In this […]