Accepted! Maria’s paper on the love life of male mink

31 07 2013

This lovely piece of work, on the enhanced mating success of enriched-housed males and the mechanisms underlying it (in a nutshell: they are not crazy and stereotypic), has been accepted at last, by PloS One. Like Collete’s sex ratio paper, Maria and the rest of us (e.g. Albrecht Schulte-Hofstede) had aimed high with previous submissions, being rejected by Nature, Science and other high-falutin’ journals (losing time and morale in the process). Fabulous to get a “yes” at last – just minor revisions, with one referee (clearly an extremely intelligent, astute individual) saying this:
“This manuscript presents an experiment that is meticulously designed and reported. The results are definitive and valuable to the field of mammalian environmental enrichment”.

Looking at the search terms that get people here by accident…

28 07 2013

… an awful lot of them want to have sex with animals.

Soldier returns to cat after 6 months abroad

28 07 2013


Our house in a national newspaper!

27 07 2013

The odd inaccuracy but all-in-all a nice Globe & Mail piece about our lovely, lovely, eccentric house (it’s why I work at home all the time). The interview was fun too (though I did spend days and days tidying beforehand, to hide the fact that everything is usually covered in paper) — Dave le Blanc was interesting and knowledgable, and it was really wonderful meeting Mrs. Pagani and her daughter Suzanne (the other daughter has 12 cats apparently, so Jonathan and I seemed quite moderate by comparison).

Screen shot 2013-07-27 at 5.03.36 PM

Parrot self-plucking paper accepted by Avian Biology Research

26 07 2013

Accepted, after a long delay and for us, dealing with a very difficult referee. Very relieved it’s in! Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 4.30.03 PMAbstract: Captive parrots (Psittaciformes) commonly engage in “feather-damaging behaviour” (FDB) that suggests compromised welfare. Susceptibilities to FDB have been suggested, 26 but not empirically demonstrated, to vary across the >200 species kept in captivity. Other demographic risk factors have been proposed for particular species – but neither confirmed nor generalized across Psittaciformes. In this preliminary study, we analyzed data from a previously-conducted survey of pet owners: among 538 companion parrots representing ten non-domesticated, non-hybrid species (n≥17/species), FDB prevalence was 15.8% overall. We tested whether individual FDB status was predicted by four previously-suggested demographic risk factors: species, sex, age, or hatch origin. Available (limited) data on husbandry were assessed as potential confounding variables and controlled for as appropriate. Species identity was a predictor of FDB status (P=0.047), even after controlling for all other variables tested; however, in light of multiple statistical testing, this effect cannot be considered robust until it is replicated. The strongest predictors of FDB status were age (P=0.001; with odds of positive FDB status lower in juveniles vs. adolescents or adults [P≤0.036]), and sex (P=0.006; with odds of FDB lower in individuals of unknown, vs. known, sex [P≤0.037]). These findings need to be replicated with data that allow better statistical controls for systematic differences in housing. However, they do provide preliminary empirical evidence for within-species risk factors (suggesting new, testable hypotheses about the etiology of parrot FDB); and for intrinsic, cross-species differences in FDB susceptibility (providing a rationale for future study of the biological factors that might underpin any such taxonomic differences).

Both “mink bunk” papers out

26 07 2013

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 4.18.33 PMLink to full paper:

And also…

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 4.17.06 PMNo nice link from Elsevier yet, but will put it up in the Atrium very soon.

Could crowd source funding work for animal welfare?

26 07 2013

So far this strange and intriguing fund-raising method only exists in the US: I can see it working really well for animal welfare, and the momet it reaches Canada will be seeking funds to find out why cats purr

Could crowd source funding work for animal welfare?