My research interests are in the area of animal behaviour and welfare.
I am interested in the links between affective and cognitive processes, in particular the ways in which attention, memory and decision-making both influence and are influenced by affective state. One aim of our current research, in collaboration with psychologist Dr Liz Paul, is to investigate whether affect-induced modulation of decision-making, which leads to so-called 'cognitive bias' in humans, is also observed in animals, and hence can be used as a novel indicator of animal affect (emotion) and welfare.
I am also interested in the evolution and function of affective states, developing new measures of animal emotion and welfare that can be used under field conditions, and understanding more about animal cognition, emotion, personality, and social behaviour with a view to identifying and minimising welfare problems for captive animals.
I also have interests in the influence of early experience and social behaviour (including mother-offspring relations, early husbandry procedures, and 'abnormal behaviours' such as tail-biting in pigs) on behavioural development, an individual's ability to cope with challenge, and animal welfare.
BBSRC: The defence cascade as an indicator of animal welfare in the lab and field (PI: Mike Mendl; Co-Is: Neill Campbell (Computer Science), Bill Browne (Vet Science), Emma Robinson (Physiology & Pharmacology); Postdocs: Poppy Statham, Sion Hannuna; Technician: Beth Loftus). We are developing an automated computer vision approach to measuring rapid defenisve movements as indicators of affect and welfare in pigs
NC3Rs: Development and validation of an automated test of animal affect and welfare for laboratory rodents (PI: Mike Mendl; Co-Is: Liz Paul (Vet Science), Peter Dayan (Gatsby Computational Unit, UCL), Emma Robinson (Physiology & Pharmacology); Postdoc: Sam Jones). We are developing an automated cognitive bias task for lab rats and mice
BBSRC: The incentive value of a natural and cognitively demanding behaviour: food-caching jays as a model system (PI: Nicky Clayton FRS (Cambridge); Co-I: Mike Mendl; Postdoc: Ljerka Ostojic). We are investigating 'social understanding' in caching and food-sharing tasks in jays, with a view to assessing the incentive value / 'motivational importance' of such activities to the birds.
Further information about Professor Michael Mendl can be found here.
I graduated in 1982 with a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and then stayed on to study for a PhD on mother-offspring relationships and behavioural development supervised by Prof Pat Bateson FRS at the Cambridge Zoology Department's Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour. I completed my PhD in 1986 and was then awarded a Royal Society European Research Fellowship to continue work on behavioural development and individual differences in house mice at Groningen University in the Netherlands. I then returned to Cambridge University and took a postdoc position at the Vet School where I moved into the fields of applied behaviour and animal welfare and was introduced to the intelligence, grace and equipment destroying capabilities of the domestic pig. In 1993, I took up a position as a behavioural scientist at the Scottish Agricultural College in Edinburgh, continuing to work on pig behaviour and welfare, and then moved to Bristol University Vet School in 1997 where I am now Professor of Animal Behaviour and Welfare. and have previously been Head of the Bristol Animal Welfare & Behaviour Group, and Deputy Head of School (Research). At Bristol, my research interests have been in the study of cognition, emotion, development, individuality and social behaviour in domestic animals (pigs, dogs, rats, sheep), with a view to using this information to improve animal welfare, and in more applied animal welfare issues including the relationship between housing and husbandry procedures and the health and welfare of farm and laboratory animals, and understanding abnormal behaviour such as tail-biting in pigs.
View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system
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