Aggression in group housed male mice is a major concern from both an animal welfare and scientific perspective. Surprising little is known about the social behaviour of male mice in the laboratory environment and therefore what factors trigger aggression or beneficial husbandry methods. We are currently working on an NC3Rs funded project to investigate the impact of different housing conditions on aggression-related behaviours and how these impact on the affective state of male mice. Our aim is to develop methods for housing male mice which are optimal for their welfare and based on objective assessments of the affective experience and methods which can generate positive rather than negative affective states. This has been made possible by novel behavioural methods pioneered by our group which mean we can ‘ask the animals’ which environment they prefer. We have available a 1-year self-funded MSc by Research to join this project. The student will carry out studies investigating how the home cage environment might be modified to reduce aggression. Analysis will use a range of home cage monitoring techniques to observe social interactions and affective bias assays to quantify the impacts on affective state.
Research environment: you will have the opportunity to join our behavioural neuroscience research group where we currently run two main research programmes. The majority of the group is working on projects relating to the emotional and cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders but our experience with quantifying emotional behaviour in animals has enabled us to develop this animal welfare focused theme.
Please apply to: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/apply/ and ensure that you select the School of Physiology and Pharmacology, Masters by Research. Please also enter the supervisors name in your application.