Accurate pain evaluation is essential for ethical review of laboratory animal use. Warnings that “prey species hide their pain,” encourage careful accurate pain assessment. In this article, I review relevant literature on prey species’ pain manifestation through the lens of the applied ethics of animal welfare oversight. If dogs are the species whose pain is most reliably diagnosed, I argue that it is not their diet as predator or prey but rather because dogs and humans can develop trusting relationships and because people invest time and effort in canine pain diagnosis. Pain diagnosis for all animals may improve when humans foster a trusting relationship with animals and invest time into multimodal pain evaluations. Where this is not practical, as with large cohorts of laboratory mice, committees must regard with skepticism assurances that animals “appear” pain-free on experiments, requiring thorough literature searches and sophisticated pain assessments during pilot work.
The housing, care and handling of animals in a laboratory/research setting presents a wide variety of challenges to researchers, veterinarians and animal care staff. With that in mind, there are certain fundamental components of both facility design and procedural techniques which should always be considered. Some of the initial considerations should be the potential value of the research being proposed along with ethical aspects of the protocol design. The selected species should be appropriate for the study and essential needs of that species addressed with regard to their 24/7 environment. In addition, the equipment and expertise needed to humanely conduct restraint and other procedures should be available. At times, the goals of the science are moved ahead of the basic well-being of the subjects being studied. This can be problematic, especially for animals that are maintained long term. This review of facilities, animal care enrichment strategies and methodologies for swine will highlight some of the more effective and practical approaches to minimizing stress and enhancing the value of the research conducted.
We characterized the genetic structure of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) meta-population living in the core of its Italian distribution range providing results from 191 fresh spraints, collected from 24 watercourses included in Southern Italy. Furthermore, according to ecological corridors and barriers, we discuss the likely ways of movement and possible evolutionary fate of these populations. We genotyped 136 samples using 11 Lut microsatellite nuclear markers amplified from faecal dna. Microsatellites were moderately variable (Ho = 0.45; He = 0.46), with a total number of alleles and average number of alleles per locus in the meta-population of 50 and 4.54, respectively. No significant heterozygosity excess was observed in meta-population suggesting no recent population bottlenecks. Bayesian clustering discriminated a sub-structuring of the meta-population in five putative clusters, indicating that local populations are genetically differentiated: three of these seem to be identifiable with geographically defined sub-populations (from the Cilento, Agri and Basento river basins). The fourth is represented by multiple sub-populations with admixed genotype, that include genotypes from the Lao, Sinni and Abatemaco river basins, living in a landscape with the higher environmental permeability. Landscape genetic analysis could provide evidence of an unexpected ecological corridor: the seacoast, highlighted, for the first time as a new way for the dispersion of the South-Italian otters. Deepening the knowledge of these perspectives is crucial to identify solid strategies aimed at the future health of the populations of the Italian otters, by restoring dispersal corridors and managing the watercourses.
A synoptic review of the family Dendronotidae is presented based on morphological and molecular data. Three genera are recognized: Dendronotus, Pseudobornella, and Cabangus gen. nov. Two new Dendronotus species are described, D. yrjargul sp. nov. and D. nordenskioeldi sp. nov., which reveal fine-scale differences. Dendronotus yrjargul sp. nov. from mid-Norway and the Arctic regions is a sister species to the North Pacific D. kalikal. These two species are showing clear morphological and ontogenetic differences but are close in genetic distance. In contrast, Dendronotus nordenskioeldi sp. nov. from the Laptev Sea is externally similar to the white morphs of D. lacteus or D. frondosus, but according to the molecular data and radular morphology it is distinct from any of its congenerics. Comparison of molecular and morphological data of D. niveus from the type locality (White Sea) and material from other localities with those from the American North Atlantic coast (type locality of D. elegans) reveals their substantial similarity. Therefore, D. niveus is considered a junior synonym of D. elegans. The present review of the family Dendronotidae contributes to a general discussion on the species concepts and on a recent proposal of multilevel organismal diversity.
Animal welfare is an increasingly important component of veterinary medicine. While the AVMA Model Animal Welfare Curriculum is not required, there is growing research that examines veterinary students’ understanding of animal welfare and moral and ethical responsibility to animals. However, there is limited research that investigates incoming veterinary students’ perspectives on animal welfare: a significant pedagogical gap, as successful curriculum interventions take into account students’ pre-existing experiences. This study investigates this gap in the literature through a qualitative, interview-based study of twenty incoming veterinary students at an accredited veterinary college. Four themes are identified in the data: formative childhood experiences; pre-professional experiences in the field; public conversations in the media/ social media; and academic definitions memorized for admission interviews. In conclusion, I draw on the field of narrative medicine to discuss how students’ stories are important to understanding the curriculum and pedagogy of animal welfare in veterinary education.
Some recent psychological studies suggest that the belief that humans matter more than other animals can be strengthened by cognitive dissonance. Jaquet (forthcoming) argues that some of these studies also show that the relevant belief is primarily caused by cognitive dissonance and is therefore subject to a debunking argument. We offer an alternative hypothesis according to which we are already speciesist but cognitive dissonance merely enhances our speciesism. We argue that our hypothesis explains the results of the studies at least as well as Jaquet’s. We then respond to a series of objections. Along the way, we highlight various respects in which further studies are needed to decide between Jaquet’s hypothesis and ours.
AAALAC International is a nonprofit organization that evaluates and accredits research, testing and educational animal care and use programs around the world. The ethical review and oversight processes are key elements of a program, and therefore are thoroughly assessed during the accreditation process. Legal approaches to ethical review and oversight vary across geopolitical areas and are nonexistent in some regions, creating a heterogeneous landscape of processes globally. In AAALAC’s interpretation, ethical and oversight processes must first comply with applicable legislation (engineering standards), but also they must be effective (performance standards). To evaluate the efficacy of each system and be consistent in the assessments, AAALAC relies on a performance-based approach which focuses on the outcome of the process, as AAALAC considers that the same satisfactory outcome can be achieved by different procedures. How AAALAC assesses the combination of legal compliance and the efficacy of ethical review and oversight processes in the international context is described.
According to Directive 2010/63/EU, project proposals involving experiments on animals must be favourably evaluated by the local Animal Welfare Body (AWB) before submission for approval to the central competent authority, i.e., the Ministry of Health in the case of Italy. Here the working experience of the AWB established in one Italian veterinary public health institution is considered and discussed to identify limits, difficulties, and provide suggestions for improvement based on practical cases. Given its pivotal role, the AWB should be strengthened to guarantee the safety and welfare of animals used for scientific purposes, and to further the awareness of researchers about animal welfare and ethics.
Dwarfish males are a relatively common phenomenon in animals, occurring in various taxa, most often when females conduct a sedentary life mode. Such males, beside smaller size, exhibit a series of morphological and anatomical alterations, mostly structural reductions. Here we present the case of the alimentary tract of dwarfish males of the aphid genus Stomaphis where, despite it being structurally normal, it does not serve its original function due to a lack of mouthparts. Cross-sections through mounted specimens revealed also that nervous and reproductive systems are fully developed. The question arises as to whether such a system may be considered vestigial, or an exaptation with secondary function shifted to play new primary function. Because the aphid genus Stomaphis is known from the fossil record to have existed for at least ca. 14 My and all of its species have dwarfish, arostral males, this indicates that it may be too short a period for reduction of the whole system. It also raises questions about the mechanisms of loss of the primary functionality of the whole physiological unit, and the influence of such modification on the evolution of its phylogenetic successors. Secondary functions of the tract are speculated to be responsible for its endurance.