Ethical treatment of animals in applied animal behaviour research

Applied animal behaviour studies are of fundamental importance to developing our understanding of animals. The use of animals in such studies does, however, raise important ethical issues. Many applied behaviour studies are non-invasive and require simply observing animals in the environment that they would normally be found. But, other studies might require manipulation of the animals and/or their environments. To help ISAE members make what are sometimes difficult decisions about the procedures involved in their studies, ISAE Council decided to form a Sub-Committee to write a set of ethical guidelines. The guidelines are written to be used by researchers, conference organisers, scientific reviewers, and the Ethics Committee to assess the acceptability of papers submitted for presentation at its Congresses. These guidelines should supplement the legal requirements of the location in which the research was performed. They should not be considered as an imposition on the scientific freedom of individual researchers, but rather as helping to provide an ethical framework that ISAE members may use in making decisions about the ethical acceptability of their research.

The members of the Ethics committee (as of 2017):

  • Anna Olsson (Chair), Portugal
  • Alexandra Whittaker, Australia
  • Francois Martin, USA
  • Franck Peron, France
  • Francesco De Giorgio, The Netherlands
  • Cecilie Mejdell, Norway
  • Elize van Vollenhoven, South Africa

The Guidelines are available for download below. Any comments can be emailed to  (olsson@ibmc.up.pt). A similar version, written for applied animal behaviour researchers in general, is published at:

Sherwin, C.M., Christiansen, S.B., Duncan, I.J.H., Erhard, H.W., Lay, D.C., Mench, J.A., O’Connor, C.E. and Petherick, C.J., 2003. Guidelines for the ethical use of animals in applied animal behaviour research. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 81: 291-305.

Guidelines for Ethical Treatment of Animals in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare Research

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Prepared by ISAE Ethics Committee (updated July, 2017)

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