Animal welfare and laboratory (rodents) bioacoustics (Week 11, 3 ECTS)

The first day of the module will focus on rodent vocal behaviour. We will review the production, nature and function of rodent ultrasound vocalizations (rats and mice). During the afternoon practical sessions, we will apply methods used to analyse ultrasonic and rodent vocalizations. During the second day of the module, we will discuss the relevance of rodent bioacoustics for laboratory studies in the biological neuroscience / bio-medical domains.

During the next two days of the module, we will review how emotions and wellbeing can be assessed in animals, how they are encoded in animal vocalizations and how this can lead to emotional contagion (state matching between the producer and receptor). We will also see how bioacoustics can provide a tool for monitoring animal welfare in captivity, with a focus on domesticated (farmed) animals. During the practical sessions, we learn to apply tools for assessing emotions and welfare in mammal vocalizations.

The module will conclude with research talks during the last day.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, a successful student should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of rodent bioacoustics and of the main tools used to record and analyse rats and mice vocalizations.

2. Demonstrate familiarity with main issues and current topics relating to the use of bioacoustics to monitor animal welfare.

3. Demonstrate a good understating of principles behind the assessment of animal emotions and their encoding in animal vocalizations.

© Brian Squibb​

© Elodie Briefer


The mark will be based on the oral presentation of a scientific paper (duration = 10 min + 5 min questions).

© Brian Squibb​


Monday 22nd November

Morning lecture: Acoustic communication in mice and rats (Elodie Ey).

Afternoon Practicals: Recording and analysing ultrasonic signals (Fabrice de Chaumont).

Tuesday 23rd November

Morning lecture: Use of rodent vocal behaviour in neuroscience and biomedical studies (Elodie Ey).

Afternoon Practicals: Recording and analysing rodent vocalizations in the laboratory (Fabrice de Chaumont).

Wednesday 24th November

Morning lecture: Assessment of animal emotions and their encoding in Animal Vocalisations (Elodie Briefer).

Afternoon Practicals: Analysis of emotions in (human) vocalisations (Elodie Briefer).

Thursday 25th November

Morning lecture: Emotional contagion and research talks by guest speakers (videoconference).

Afternoon Practicals: Monitoring welfare in livestock (Elodie Briefer).

Friday 26th November

Morning: Research talks & supervised study time

Lunch: ENES lab talk

Afternoon: Oral presentations of scientific papers.

Organisers and tutors: Elodie Briefer, Florence Levréro, Nicolas Mathevon

Tutors: Elodie Ey, Fabrice de Chaumont, Elodie Briefer, Florence Levréro, Nicolas Mathevon.

Guests speakers: Marek Spinka, Marina Scheumann, Piera Filippi.

© Leo Perrier