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

Assessment

Monday and Tuesday's content will be assessed by a practical-based presentation on Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday and Thursday's content will also be assessed by a practical-based presentation, scheduled for Friday morning.

© Brian Squibb​

2022 Provisional Schedule

Monday 21st November

Morning lecture (starts 9am): Acoustic communication in mice and rats (Elodie Ey).

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

Tuesday 22nd November

Morning lecture (starts 8am): 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 23rd November (Elodie Briefer)

Morning lecture (9-12): Assessment of animal emotions and their encoding in animal vocalisations.

  • Part 1: Introduction to animal emotions – 2h + group exercise

  • Part 2: Introduction to the study of vocal expression of emotions – 1h + group exercise

Afternoon Practical (13:30-17:30): Group project on vocal expression of emotions in humans (own recordings) or animals (provided database)

  • Wrapping up of morning exercise and questions – 1h

  • Practical: introduction, recordings and analyses – 3h

Thursday 24th November (Elodie Briefer)

Morning lecture (9:00-10:00): Introduction to vocal contagion of emotions

Morning Practical (10:00-13:00): Continuation of projects started on the 23.11 and preparation of oral presentations for the 25.11

Afternoon: free time

Friday 25th November (Elodie Briefer)

Morning talks (9:00-12:00): Presentation of projects by student groups (3 students per group) - 10-15min talks + 5-10min questions 

Afternoon (13:00-17:00): Guest talks Marek Špinka – 1h; Marina Scheumann – 1h; Piera Filippi – 1h

Organisers and tutors: Elodie Briefer

Tutors: Elodie Ey, Fabrice de Chaumont, Elodie Briefer, Léo Perrier.

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

© Leo Perrier