Welfare biology is a proposed cross-disciplinary field at the intersection of the sciences of animal welfare and ecology. It can play a crucial role in increasing our knowledge and in raising interest about the wellbeing of animals from their own perspective and for their own sake.
While there are different ways in which animals in need of help in the wild are already being helped, ranging from rescues to vaccination programs, much more could be done, and welfare biology can play an important role.
To help researchers work in this area, in the past we have published a bibliography of texts assessing the question of wild animal suffering. We have also published several bibliographic lists with references providing general information about the situation of animals in the wild, the reasons why wild animal suffering matters, and the ways of helping wild animals.
We are now publishing another resource, a library of scientific references relevant to welfare biology to provide information to researchers and students in various scientific fields, and to assist them in conducting research in welfare biology. It contains references in the following fields of research:
You can download the whole document containing all the references classified by field here:
There are many different fields in natural sciences that are related to welfare biology. This bibliographic list focuses on some of the most relevant ones. Wild animal welfare is the study of the wellbeing of animals in the wild considered as individuals. The field of population ecology can be useful for studying aggregate wellbeing in different populations of animals and the factors contributing to it. Wildlife management is an applied field also relevant for welfare biology. The other areas of research include animal rescues, vaccinations of wild animals and urban welfare biology. The two final ones are particularly promising and deserve being mentioned separately.
Vaccinating wild animals against diseases such as rabies, tuberculosis, and sylvatic plague can help save large numbers of animals from suffering and premature death, and vaccination programs are likely to gain public approval. Vaccination of wild animals is already of interest to scientists. Furthermore, similar vaccination programs are already in progress (though with different aims), and this should reduce any resistance from policy makers.
Urban welfare biology aims at improving the wellbeing of animals living in urban environments but outside of human control, such as pigeons living in cities. Pilot programs in cities can be more easily monitored than programs in the wilderness, and it is also easier to implement policies to improve the lives of animals in urban areas. Research in this area could help us to make cost-effective improvements to urban areas that will increase the wellbeing of animals.
We hope that this library will be a useful resource for researchers and students interested in contributing to welfare biology, and, ultimately, to the wellbeing of individual animals. For suggestions on specific research topics, see our page on research projects in welfare biology.