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HumaneSpot.org, from the Humane Research Council, is the world's most comprehensive resource for public opinion and behavior research about animal protection issues. This site is designed to help animal advocates be more effective in helping animals. Registration is required for some items but is quick and entirely free.


Are you looking for research on a specific animal-related issue? Click one of the links below to browse HRC's comprehensive database.


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HRC Research Primers HRC's Humane Trends

Best Practice Framework for Animal Welfare Certification Schemes

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This literature review proposes best practice principles for farmed animal welfare as a basis for future international agreements and the assessment of existing welfare certifications. The focus is on engaging farmers with education and other resources to change attitudes, not just provide basic standards, and to encourage innovative, continuous improvement in animal welfare. Improving transparency for consumers on the significance of certifications is also a priority. Assessment and monitoring approaches drawn from environmental sustainability and other contexts are applied as applicable.


How Does Tourist Monitoring Alter Fish Behavior in Underwater Trails?

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This study compared behavior and nesting of cichlids in Brazilian rivers with no tourists, supervised fish-observing tourists, and unsupervised fish-observing tourists. Unsupervised tourists engaged in behaviors that disrupted fish feeding, mating and nesting. Fish in these areas were more timid about defending nesting territories, and built very few nests. Behavior and nesting of fish in areas where tourists were supervised was similar to that of fish in the no-tourist areas.

Mutualism and Manipulation in Hadza-Honeyguide Interactions

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This study observed Hadza foragers in northern Tanzania as they interacted with Greater Honeyguide birds. The birds call to attract foraging humans, and lead them to bee nests. Honeyguide-assisted harvests are far more productive than unassisted harvest, and provide a significant proportion of the Hadza's total diet. The humans hide nest remnants to keep birds hungry and guiding. The authors believe they are still able to scavenge food which would have been inaccessible without human intervention, and speculate on how this relationship evolved.



Functional MRI in Awake Unrestrained Dogs

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For this study 2 dogs were trained to remain immobile inside an MRI chamber. While they were being scanned, the dogs were given a series of hand signals to inform them that a treat either would or would not be offered. As expected, the reward center area of the brain showed significantly more activity in response to the reward signal than to the no-reward hand signal. As the success of this experiment opens the door for future MRI research on dogs, the authors model high ethical standards, including choice and positive rewards only, which they urge other researchers to apply.


Dietary Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Meat-Eaters, Fish-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans in the UK

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This UK study calculated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the production (not including cooking) of food consumed by meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. "High" meat diets (at least 100g or 3.5 oz/day) caused more than twice as much GHG as vegan diets, suggesting that reduced meat intake is consistent with an updated definition for a "healthy, sustainable diet." Questionnaires compiled during the 1990s for a large, ongoing health study (EPIC) were the source for the dietary data used for this study, so actual consumption patterns (of meat, for example) may have changed.


Animals and Attachment Theory

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Attachment theory proposes that patterns for human relationships are formed from significant childhood attachments. Where these relationships were not supportive, relationship difficulties in adulthood may result. However, these patterns don't necessarily carry over to human-animal relationships. Furthermore, some human-animal relationships may qualify as significant "attachments," which creates an opportunity for the development of new patterns in a more emotionally safe context. The impact of such relationships on animals is not addressed.



On Uncertain Sightings and Inference about Extinction

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This article discusses two different statistical models to analyze wildlife sighting data. The difference in the models lies in the way they handle uncertain sightings. The data conditions under which each model is most appropriate are discussed. The author applies both models to the case of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which may or may not be extinct, to illustrate the differences in the results that are produced.




Effect of Gentle Stroking and Vocalization on Behaviour, Mucosal Immunity and Upper Respiratory Disease in Anxious Shelter Cats

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This study tested whether multiple daily petting sessions of cats during their first 10 days at an animal shelter would improve their resistance to respiratory infections by reducing stress. Cats in the control group were 2.4 times more likely to contract a respiratory illness than cats who were petted. Control cats also experienced increased shedding over the study period, and reactivation of latent infections. Cats who were aggressive at intake were petted using a tool. None remained aggressive by the 6th day. These cats would likely have been euthanized as unsocializable ferals if they had not been assigned to the study.

Informed Communication = Better Results (part 1)

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Good communication is at the core of everything we do as advocates. Whether we’re trying to convince individuals to go vegan, showing institutions that vivisection won’t stand without a fight, recruiting new activists for a protest, working on animal protective legislation, or even writing a communique about freed animals... we’re always employing what we know—or think we know—about best practices for reaching the most people with our message.



Animals, Animal Lovers & Animal Cruelty in Old Time Radio

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The 1930s through the mid-1960s is widely regarded as a golden age in U.S. entertainment radio. Many programs survive, and give us a fascinating and sometimes surprising glimpse into the cultural attitudes of the day towards animals, animal abusers, and animal lovers. In this post, the roles, fates, and symbolic significance of animals in radio mystery/detective and horror/fantasy series are contrasted, and compared to 21st century attitudes towards animals.




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