Animal behaviour and welfare (Oxytocin, social behaviour, euthanasia, human-animal interaction)
Dr. Jean-Loup Rault's career is characterised by a multi-disciplinary and international background. His main research interest lies in the benefits of social behaviour to help animals cope with stressors, with a focus on positive affective states ('emotions'), social support and the role of the hormone oxytocin. He also has interest in researching humane methods of euthanasia and investigating the welfare implications of free-range production systems for poultry.
CV available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5UOClKr3EhXV2VHTjdGN0MtOWs/view?usp=sharing
Jean-Loup's research program focuses on 3 components:
1. Behavioural neurophysiology of affects.
This research program investigates affective states, commonly called 'emotions', by bringing the link between neuroscience (proximate mechanisms) and behaviour (ultimate mechanisms). Affective states have a subjective component, which is indeed the core of psychological well-being and animal welfare, yet inaccessible to scientific inquiry. Thankfully, the study of the brain can reveal how affective states lead to behavioural, physiological and psychological changes, on the basis of the brain's anatomy, electricity and chemistry. This research is tight to advances in technology and analytical methods: electrophysiology, computation, neuroendocrinology, molecular biology and brain imaging.
My lab program focuses more specifically on neuropeptides, particularly oxytocin for its role in socio-emotional processes and socio-behavioural development, and the benefits from social behaviour in the form of social support, hence with a focus on positive affects of social origin.
2. Humane methods of euthanasia and slaughter
Death has always been and remains one of the most sensitive animal welfare topics. Nevertheless, methods that are scientifically proven as humane, but also practical, economical and socially acceptable are needed. This research focuses on humane methods of euthanasia for piglets, innovative methods of stunning or euthanasia on-farm or slaughter in commercial abattoirs.
3. Free-range poultry production systems
The use of free-range production systems is increasing in Australia, with the perception that free-range provides healthier, safer or 'welfare-friendly' products Free-range systems allow hens to access an outdoor area that provides the opportunity to perform ‘natural’ behaviours such as foraging for food and dust-bathing. However, there is a lack of scientific knowledge relatin