Following, an overview of the ongoing and past research projects at the Laboratory for Ethology

Ongoing projects

Investigation of behaviour by dogs, prior to human epileptic seizures and potential underlying mechanisms

Veterinarian Ana Martos Martinez - Caja, MSc, MRCVS

Project supervised by Prof. C. Moons (Laboratory for Ethology) with the collaboration of Prof. V. de Herdt (Department of Neurology, UZ Ghent), Support Dogs (UK) and Medical Detection Dogs (UK) looking into the reliability of canine seizure alerting behaviour and the senses that a dog may use when perceiving an imminent seizure.


POPCAT POLICY: Development of a municipal (stray) cat policy guide and 5 lecture series on responsible municipal (stray) cat population policy

Ciska De Ruyver

In order to strengthen the (stray) cat population policy of cities and municipalities guidelines will be developed that will support them in managing colony cats, neighbourhood stakeholder communication and monitoring of issues at stake. This project aims to provide support by identifying good practices of catching, releasing and caring for stray cats in the professional field and by researching and bringing the literature together in a guide for cities and municipalities that can serve as a guide for cooperation with volunteers and third parties (POPCAT POLICY). This guide, together with the POPCAT simulator and the guide "Animal friendly municipal stray cat policy" will be presented to cities and municipalities during provincial lecture series.

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Completed projects

Scientific research about the welfare, behaviour and health status of puppies sold in Belgium

Veterinarian Pierre-Alexandre Dendoncker

In collaboration with Profs. J. Dewulf and T. de Keuster from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine as well as the universities of Namur (Prof. C. Diederich) and Liège (Prof. E. Thirry), C. Moons supervises a research project that examines the current situation at the different types of puppy breeders/merchants in Belgium and aims to identify possible risk factors for socialisation, behaviour, welfare and health.

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POPCAT: Research project for the management of free-roaming cat populations

Ciska De Ruyver

In order to address the stray cat question in Flanders a 15 month research project will be conducted from 1st August 2017 until 1st November 2018. The main focus of the project is to collect and collate data on cat population dynamics and impact of management methods in Flanders. The goal is to offer cities and communities a tool to estimate the impact of different management methods for their area. For this purpose the theoretical cost-benefit model (Høgasen et al.) will be modified in relation to the Flemish context.

The project is a collaboration between the Laboratory for Ethology (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Belgium – Prof. Christel Moons and Ciska De Ruyver), Odisee College (Belgium – Els Peeters), Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale (Italy – Paolo Dalla Villa), and the University of Antwerp (Belgium – Prof. Herwig Leirs). The project is financed by the Department Environment of Flanders.

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Evaluation of the effectiveness, animal welfare and bleeding of broilers and laying hens after electrical stunning and ritual slaughter

Veterinarian Glynnis Devos

The promotor of this project is Prof. K. Houf (Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University). The Laboratory for Ethology (Prof. C. Moons) is responsible for the welfare aspects of chickens during the slaughter process. Through measurements performed in slaughterhouses, it will be evaluated, among other things, which parameters can be used in practice to replace the gold standard (EEG) for the evaluation of the stunning effectiveness.


Development of an automated method to monitor health and welfare of pigs

Sanne Ott, M.Sc. (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University / Faculty of Bioscience Engineering – KULeuven)

The purpose of this research is to develop an objective method to monitor welfare and health in intensively farmed pigs. A series of experiments examines several stressors (change in feed composition, feeding frequency and group composition).


Study on the ontogeny of temperament in dogs for an early identification of individuals at risk of developing behaviour problem

(completed on 15th June 2016)

Rian Lensen M.Sc. (URVI-Narilis, UNamur)

Under the main supervision of C. Diederich (UNamur) en supporting supervision of the Laboratory for Ethology (Prof. C. Moons) Rian Lensen conducts developmental research on the temperament of dogs. More specifically she examines which factors (and at what age) are possible indicators to be used in an early screening of dogs to identify risks of developing behaviour problems.


Research into the prevention of heat and cold stress in animals kept on pasture

(completed on 24th April 2015)

Eva Van Laer M.Sc.

Under supervision of F. Tuyttens (ILVO/UGent) and C. Moons Eva Van Laer conducted research on the need for artificial shelter for cattle on pasture and in nature reserves.


Effect of castration at an early age on health and welfare of cats

(completed on 19th May 2014)

Veterinarian Nathalie Porters

As part of research examining the effects of early neutering in kittens (promoters are Profs. H. de Rooster, I. Polis en C. Moons), veterinarian Nathalie Porters collected data on the effects of early neutering on behavioural development of make and female kittens, supervised by Prof. C. Moons.


Development of techniques for ontogenetic studies to reveal mechanisms underlying stereotypies

(completed on the 1st December 2008)

Dr. Christel Moons, M.Sc.

The purpose of this doctoral research was to contribute to the knowledge on the functional role and underlying mechanisms of stereotypic behaviour in animals kept in captivity.