Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare

Animal Behaviour research banner


The Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Research Group comprises a unique team which contains internationally-renowned researchers working at the forefront of, and interface between, behaviour, cognition and welfare'. 

Our Mission is to use an inter-disciplinary approach to translate fundamental research in behaviour and cognition, to provide innovative, real-world solutions for the benefit of animal health, welfare and society.

We collaborate both nationally and internationally with other leading universities, charities, governmental organisations and businesses. Substantial research funding in the group has been obtained from:

Specific research organisations: BBSRC, Defra, dstl, ESF, FERA, the Royal Society, ONR and DEL-NI;

Charitable and commercial organisations: RSPCA, UFAW, Royal Canin, Waltham, Boehringer Ingelheim, CEVA Santé Animale, International Cat Care, Feline Friends and Dogs Trust.

In addition, we offer consultancy to those wishing to work with leading authorities in their field. This includes members of the animal care and pet food industry, agricultural producers, veterinary pharmaceutical companies, television and other media as well as clinical behaviour services.

Our facilities include state of the art behaviour, perception and cognition laboratories.

NamePosition/Research interests 
Dr Oliver Burman Reader
Animal behaviour, cognition and welfare
01522 835453
Dr Colin Butter Reader in Bioveterinary Science
Avian and comparative immunology
Dr Jonathan Cooper Principal Lecturer
Animal behaviour and welfare
01522 835276
Dr Sarah Ellis Research Fellow
01522 835307
Dr Lauren Finka Research Fellow
Assessment of pain in cats
Dr Sophie Hall Research Fellow
Human-animal interactions
Ben Keep Research Assistant
Prof Daniel Mills Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine
Veterinary behaviour
01522 835356
Sophie Moszuti Research Assistant
Teresa Romero Senior Lecturer
Animal behaviour, cognition and welfare
01522 835881
Dr Karen Staines Research Fellow
Avian immunology
Dr Anna Wilkinson Senior Lecturer
Animal cognition
01522 835465
Dr Hannah Wright Visiting Fellow
01522 835473
Catia Caeiro PhD student
Animal cognition and communication
01522 837366


Associate Members

Emile van der Zee (School of Psychology); Kerstin Meints (School of Psychology); Kun Guo (School of Psychology); Bonaventura Majolo (School of Psychology); Todd Hogue (School of Psychology); Petra Pollux (School of Psychology); Karen Pfeffer (School of Psychology); Derek Foster (School of Computer Science); Conor Linehan (School of Computer Science); John Murray (School of Computer Science); Georgios Tzimiropoulos (School of Computer Science); Ted Fuller (Lincoln Business School); Diane Ryland (Lincoln Law School); Charles Deeming (School of Life Sciences); Fernando Montealegre-Z (School of Life Sciences); Tom Pike (School of Life Sciences).

School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS 

tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654


A sample of recently funded projects include:

Assessment and early detection of pain in cats, Feline Friends: Prof Daniel Mills

Use of Imepitoin for anxiety related problems, Boehringer Ingelheim: Prof Daniel Mills

Categorisation of odours in dogs, Office of Naval Research Global: Dr Helen Zulch, Dr Anna Wilkinson, Dr Ruth Croxton

Vocalisation as a welfare indicator in pigs, DEL-NI: Dr Lisa Collins

Modelling the effects of climate change on broiler welfare, DEL-NI: Dr Lisa Collins

Welfare of Happy Eggs Free Range Hens. Cirkle. Jonathan Cooper

A whole systems approach to optimising feed efficiency and reducing the ecological footprint of monogastric species (ECO-FCE), EU-FP7: Dr Lisa Collins.

Towards a predictive early warning system for poor welfare in pigs, BBSRC: Dr Lisa Collins

Factors affecting working performance of odour detection dogs, dstl: Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Developing a novel cognitive approach to assessing affective state in animals, BBSRC: Dr Oliver Burman

New approaches to food preference in cats, Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition: Dr Oliver Burman, Prof Daniel Mills

The influence of dog ownership on activity in older adults, ISAZ - Waltham: Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Sarah Ellis


School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS

tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654

Representative recent publications:

Chielo L., Pike T. and Cooper J.J. (2016) Ranging behaviour of commercial free-range laying hens. Animals 2016, 6(5), 28.

Barcelos, A.-M. and Mills, D. S. and Zulch, H. (2015) Clinical indicators of occult musculoskeletal pain in aggressive dogs. Veterinary Record, 176 (18). pp. 465-465.

Kis, Anna and Huber, Ludwig and Wilkinson, Anna (2015) Social learning by imitation in a reptile (Pogona vitticeps). Animal Cognition, 18 (1). pp. 325-331.

Karagiannis, Christos I. and Burman, Oliver H. P. and Mills, Daniel S. (2015) Dogs with separation-related problems show a “less pessimistic” cognitive bias during treatment with fluoxetine (Reconcile™) and a behaviour modification plan. BMC Veterinary Research.

Kiddie, Jenna L. and Collins, Lisa M. (2015) Identifying environmental and management factors that may be associated with the quality of life of kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 167. pp. 43-55.

Métras, Raphaëlle and Jewell, Chris and Porphyre, Thibaud and Thompson, Peter N. and Pfeiffer, Dirk U. and Collins, Lisa M. and White, Richard G. (2015) Risk factors associated with Rift Valley fever epidemics in South Africa in 2008-11. Scientific Reports, 5. pp. 9492.

Mayes, Evely.-Rose E. and Wilkinson, Anna and Pike, Thomas W. and Mills, Daniel S. (2015) Individual differences in visual and olfactory cue preference and use by cats (Felis catus). Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

Merola, Isabella and Mills, Daniel S. (2015) Systematic review of the behavioural assessment of pain in cats. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.

Cooper J.J., Cracknell N., Hardiman J., Wright H., Mills D. (2014) The Welfare Consequences and Efficacy of Training Pet Dogs with Remote Electronic Training Collars in Comparison to Reward Based Training. PLoS ONE 9(9): e102722.

Parker, R. M. A. and Paul, E. S. and Burman, O. H. P. and Browne, W. J. and Mendl, M. (2014) Housing conditions affect rat responses to two types of ambiguity in a reward-reward discrimination cognitive bias task. Behavioural Brain Research, 274. pp. 73-83.

Jones, Samantha and Burman, Oliver and Mendl, Michael (2014) Social discrimination of cage-mates and non-cage-mates by rats. Behavioural Processes, 106. pp. 130-140.

Kiddie, Jenna L. and Collins, Lisa M. (2014) Development and validation of a quality of life assessment tool for use in kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 158. pp. 57-68.

Redgate, S. E., Cooper, J. J., Hall, S., Eady, P. and Harris, P. A. (2014) Dietary experience modifies horses’ feeding behavior and selection patterns of three macronutrient rich diets. Journal of Animal Science, 92 (4). pp. 1524-1530.

Concha Ramirez, Astrid and Mills, Daniel S. and Feugier, Alexandre and Zulch, Helen and Guest, Claire and Harris, Rob and Pike, Tomas W. (2014) Using sniffing behavior to differentiate true negative from false negative responses in trained scent-detection dogs. Chemical Senses, 39 (9). pp. 749-754.

Péron, Franck and Ward , Rebecca and Burman, Oliver (2014) Horses (Equus caballus) discriminate body odour cues from conspecifics. Animal Cognition, 17 (4). pp. 1007-1011.

Mueller-Paul, Julia and Wilkinson, Anna and Aust, Ulrike and Steurer, Michael and Hall, Geoffrey and Huber, Ludwig (2014) Touchscreen performance and knowledge transfer in the red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria). Behavioural Processes, 106. pp. 187-192.

Stephan, C., Wilkinson, A., & Huber, L. (2013). You notice what you need – the impact of ecological relevance on the use of the concept of familiarity. Animal Cognition (doi 10.1007/s10071-013-0632-0).

Wascher, C., Szipl, G., Boeckl, M., & Wilkinson, A. (2012). You sound familiar – Carrion crows can differentiate between the calls of known and unknown heterospecifics. Animal Cognition 15, 1015-1019.

van der Zee E., Zulch H., Mills D. (2012) Word generalization by a dog (Canis familiaris): is shape important? PLoS One 7, e49382.

Racca A., Guo K., Meints K., Mills D.S. (2012) Reading faces: differential lateral gaze bias in processing canine and human facial expressions in dogs and 4-year-old children. PLoS One 7, e36076.

Mendl, M., Brooks, J., Basse, C., Burman, O., Paul, E., Blackwell, E., & Casey, R. (2010) Dogs showing separation-related behaviour exhibit a 'pessimistic' cognitive bias. Current Biology, 20 (19). pp. R839-R840.

Mendl, M., and Burman, O., & Paul, E. (2010) An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 277 (1696). pp. 2895-2904.


School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS

tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654

We welcome applications at any time from prospective MSc by Research (MScRes), MPhil or PhD students wishing to join our thriving postgraduate research community. Funded positions will be advertised as they arise via University of Lincoln Job Opportunities. In addition, we do consider applications for post graduate studies in areas relevant to our core interests by excellent applicants able to fund themselves or supported by their employer.

For further information on the range of research topics available, please see the individual staff pages and contact potential supervisors directly.

Current and recent postgraduate research students:

Luciana AssisNovel approaches to the investigation of separation related problems in dogs (Science without Borders)  Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Oliver Burman, Dr Tom Pike

Karen BradyTemperament assessment for performance in olfactory working dogs (dstl) Professor Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Catia CaeiroAge effects on competence in assessing emotional expression in dogs and people (University / School of Psychology award) Dr Kun Guo, Prof Daniel Mills

Leonard Chielo - Behaviour and welfare of free range laying hens. Jonathan Cooper, Tom Pike and John Murray.

Astrid Concha - Assessing canine olfactory ability and its moderation (Royal Canin) Dr Tom Pike, Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Joanne Cruden - Environmental enrichment for laboratory rabbits. Jonathan Cooper and Oliver Burman

Fernanda FadelGenetic basis of impulsivity in the dog (SLS award) Dr Malgorzata Pilot, Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Humberto Guttierrez

M. Sofia Fernandez - Improving the welfare of chimpanzees in African rehabilitation centres by the creation and implementation of guidelines in the field. Jonathan Cooper, Bino Majolo, Carl Soulsbury

Lauren FinkaThe prediction of human sociability in the domestic cat (International Cat Care, COAPE) Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Sarah Ellis, Dr Anna Wilkinson

Gabriel O Freiria-Celis - Alternative modes of transmission of bovine TB. Jonathan Cooper, Subhajit Biswas

Karen GriffinBehavioural flexibility and dog-owner compatibility (self funded and Dogs Trust) Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Tom Pike, Dr Libby John

Simon Hendry - The Assessment of Personality in Zoo Animals and its Effect on the Provision of Enrichment. Oliver Burman, Jonathan Cooper, Carl Soulsbury

Naima KasbaouiEffect of electronic boundary systems on the welfare of cats (Feline Friends) Dr Oliver Burman, Professor Daniel Mills Dr Jonathan Cooper

Mie KikuchiOrigin and management of attitudes to canine aggression in UK and Japan (self funded) Prof Daniel Mills, Prof Tod Hogue

Rachael KingFactors affecting behavioural development of kittens (self funded) Dr Jonathan Cooper, Prof Daniel Mills

Lorella NotariEvaluation of behavioural side-effects of corticosteroids in dogs (self funded) Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Oliver Burman

Rachel OrrittAssessment of risk in relation to canine aggression towards humans (University/ School of Psychology award) Prof Tod Hogue, Prof Daniel Mills

Sarah ReaneyInvestigating pain and personality in dogs with hip dysplasia (SLSaward) Dr Lisa Collins, Dr Helen Zulch

Prarom SriphavatsarakomIntegration of olfactory and visual signals in the dog (Self funded) Dr Tom Pike, Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Helen Zulch

Fiona WilliamsMobile eye-tracking technology in the dog (self funded) Prof Daniel Mills, Dr Kun Guo, Dr Anna Wilkinson


School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln. LN6 7TS

tel: + 44 (0)1522 886654