cod. 1005334

Academic year 2014/15
2° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Zoologia (BIO/05)
A scelta dello studente
Type of training activity
Student's choice
42 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
in - - -

Learning objectives

1. knowledge and understanding. Students must achieve a good understanding of the specific ethological approach to management and welfare of animals that live in close contact with humans in families, farms, zoos and laboratories.
2. ability to apply knowledge and understanding. Students must be able to apply a scientific observational method to the analysis of the behavior of domestic animals and/or wild living in captivity and to integrate the various levels of causal and functional analysis of the behavior and well-being.
3. independence of opinion. Students must develop critical capacity and autonomy of judgement with respect to the description and interpretation of behavioral data used as indicators of stress and/or wellness.
4. communication skills. Students must be able to communicate the results of animal behavior analysis both as regards animal welfare concerning the issues of human-animal relationship..
5. learning ability. Students must be able to learn the meaning, the techniques and methods of Ethological approach to the study of human-animal relationship and to protect the welfare of animals that live in close proximity with humans and dependence in terms of economic exploitation.


students should have a stong background in Ethology, whereby they must have at least already attended the course and possibly having passed the exam.

Course unit content

The course aims to provide tools for understanding and managing the behavior of animals that live in dependence on humans, be they domestic or wild. In particular, after a brief excursus on the human-animal relationship and domestication process, the lessons are aimed at understanding the ethological needs of the animals living in zoos, farms, laboratory and families. Key concepts of classical ethology as motivation, are discussed in terms of application for the assessment of animal welfare. The course is also integrated by some lessons on stress and the use of the behavior as an indicator of distress. In addition, the course provides legislative items that relate to animal welfare in the various contexts in which animals are used by humans: transport, slaughter, breeding, circuses, zoos, etc. The second part of the course is focused on knowledge of the behavior of pets. Species by species will be delved into the path of domestication and morphological and behavioral changes resulting from this. The species examined in the course are: dogs and cats for companion animals; dairy, beef cattle, sheep and goats, pigs, laying hens and broilers as productive animals that provide food for human use. Specie-specific behaviours and welfare issues will be illustrated for each species.

Full programme

What is Applied Ethology

History of the human-animal relationship

Domestication proccess and its influence on behaviors

Animal Motivation:
Models of motivation
How to measure animal motivation
Animaml needs: biological and ehtological needs

Stress and Behavior:
stress concepts, its biological and physiological substrates
behavioural consequence of stress
abnormal behaviours

Animal Welfare:
general concepts
environmental enrichment

past, present and future of the Zoo

Behaviour and Welfare of the dog
Behaviour and Welfare of the cat
Behaviour and Welfare of dairy cattles and
Behaviour and Welfare of sheeps and goats
Behaviour and Welfare of the pig
Behaviour and Welfare of broiler chicken and laying hens


Etologia Applicata e Benessere Animale. Vol 1 e 2. Point Veterinarie Italie 2008

Per Jensen: “Etologia degli animali domestici” McGraw-Hill 2011

Webster “ Il benessere animale” Edagricole 1999letture integrative

altre letture:

Houpt “Il comportamento degli animali domestici” EMSI 2000

Webster “Animal welfare, limping towards Eden” 2005 Blackwell Publishing

Appleby & Hughes “Animal Welfare” CABI Publishing 1999

Serpell “In the company of animals” Blackwell 1986

Fraser & Broom “ Farm animal behaviour and welfare” CABI Publishing

Clutton Brock “Storia naturale della domesticazione dei mammiferi” Bollati Boringhieri 2001

teacher's powerpoint presentations available on web site

Teaching methods

The lectures take place in the first part illustrating general concepts (motivation, stress, welfare) that are detailed in the second part with examples of research applications (breeding, zoo, laboratory). To stimulate the development of critical abilities of the student and promote discussion each topic discussed in class is taken over by a scientific paper that is examined and discussed with an emphasis on the methodologies used in the study, the conclusions drawn from the results. The lectures are held with the help of PowerPoint presentations that are made available to students on the site. At the end of the course is carried out a visit to intensive farming and whenever possible extensive breeding farms.

Assessment methods and criteria

At the end of the course each student is given a paper on one of the topics covered. Starting from this paper the student must prepare a 15-minute seminar that will exhibit the day of the exam, organized as follows: illustration of the topic referring to the existing literature, materials, and methods used, evaluation of the results obtained, any critical points, questions still open. Particular attention is paid to the student's critical ability, his understanding of the issues dealt with and the capacity argument. The seminar evaluation corresponds to 50% of the final vote. At the end of the presentation of the seminar some specific questions on other topics of the course will complete the verification. Proper use of an appropriate scientific language is considered an essential condition for the success of the exam.

Other information

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