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The neurophysiological determination of effective stunning systems for fish

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  • Full or part time
    Dr J Murrell
    Dr S Wotton
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About This PhD Project

Project Description

This PhD project has been submitted to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) for consideration for funding. The project must have a named student attached to it to be successful in this application therefore we are seeking an enthusiastic and dedicated student to apply for funding with this project. The success of the funding application is very dependent on the calibre of this student. The deadline for the final application to UFAW is mid January 2016 and the project, if funded, will commence in May 2016.

This project gives the student the opportunity to make a major contribution to the welfare of fish at slaughter. It will investigate the methodologies currently used by researchers to evaluate effective stunning in other species, for example: (a) analysis of the abolition of evoked potentials e.g. visual evoked potentials (b) the presence of polyspike activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG) followed by EEG suppression to ≤10% of the total power content of the EEG compared with the pre stun total power content (c) the use of EEG spectral analysis (d) the assessment of chaotic signals within the EEG and determine whether these criteria can be applied to a range of fish species. In addition, if necessary, new techniques will be investigated to further our understanding of stunning effectiveness in farmed fish based on detailed analysis of EEG and evoked potentials. This project will also evaluate currently recommended behavioural signs of ineffective stunning and relate them to the signs of effective stunning determined in the laboratory using the newly developed stunning/killing systems to give a better understanding of the welfare of farmed fish at stunning and slaughter.

Please contact Drs. Jo Murrell ([email protected]) or Steve Wotton ([email protected]) for further information about the project and the funding process.

When applying please select ’Veterinary Science’ PhD within the Faculty of Health Sciences.


Kestin SC, Wotton SB, Gregory NG (1991). Effect of slaughter by removal from water on visual evoked activity in the brain and reflex movement of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Vet Rec 128(19):443-6.

Kestin SC, van deVis JW, Robb DH (2002). Protocol for assessing brain function in fish and the effectiveness of methods used to stun and kill them. Vet Rec 150(10):302-7.

Robb DH, Wotton SB, McKinstry JL, Sørensen NK, Kestin SC (2000). Commercial slaughter methods used on Atlantic salmon: determination of the onset of brain failure by electroencephalography. Vet Rec 147(11):298-303.

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