Facial expression: an under-utilized tool for the assessment of welfare in mammals

Descovich, Kris A., Wathan, Jennifer, Leach, Matthew C., Buchanan-Smith, Hannah M., Flecknell, Paul, Farningham, David and Vick, Sarah-Jane (2017) Facial expression: an under-utilized tool for the assessment of welfare in mammals. ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation, 34 3: 409-429. doi:10.14573/altex.1607161

Author Descovich, Kris A.
Wathan, Jennifer
Leach, Matthew C.
Buchanan-Smith, Hannah M.
Flecknell, Paul
Farningham, David
Vick, Sarah-Jane
Title Facial expression: an under-utilized tool for the assessment of welfare in mammals
Journal name ALTEX: Alternatives to Animal Experimentation   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1868-8551
Publication date 2017-03-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.14573/altex.1607161
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 34
Issue 3
Start page 409
End page 429
Total pages 21
Place of publication Heidelberg, Germany
Publisher Springer Spektrum
Language eng
Abstract Animal welfare is a key issue for industries that use or impact upon animals. The accurate identification of welfare states is particularly relevant to the field of bioscience, where the 3Rs framework encourages refinement of experimental procedures involving animal models. The assessment and improvement of welfare states in animals depends on reliable and valid measurement tools. Behavioral measures (activity, attention, posture and vocalization) are frequently used because they are immediate and non-invasive, however no single indicator can yield a complete picture of the internal state of an animal. Facial expressions are extensively studied in humans as a measure of psychological and emotional experiences but are infrequently used in animal studies, with the exception of emerging research on pain behavior. In this review, we discuss current evidence for facial representations of underlying affective states, and how communicative or functional expressions can be useful within welfare assessments. Validated tools for measuring facial movement are outlined, and the potential of expressions as honest signals is discussed, alongside other challenges and limitations to facial expression measurement within the context of animal welfare. We conclude that facial expression determination in animals is a useful but underutilized measure that complements existing tools in the assessment of welfare.
Keyword Refinement
Animal welfare
Facial expressions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 3 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Sun, 06 Aug 2017, 02:00:34 EST by Web Cron on behalf of Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics