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Christian Nawroth

Christian Nawroth
Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology

Ph.D, M.Sc

About

87
Publications
15,299
Reads
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752
Citations
Introduction
I am interested in how animals perceive and interact with their physical and social environment. In particular, my research focuses on the cognitive capacities of livestock (goats, horses, pigs, sheep) and zoo animals (great apes, penguins) and how this knowledge can ultimately be used to improve management conditions and human-animal interactions.
Additional affiliations
April 2017 - present
Leibniz Institute for Farm Animal Biology
Position
  • PostDoc Position
April 2015 - March 2017
Queen Mary, University of London
Position
  • Research Associate
October 2010 - October 2014
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
October 2010 - February 2015
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
Field of study
  • Farm animal cognition
October 2009 - September 2010
University of Leipzig
Field of study
  • Philosophy
October 2005 - May 2009
University of Wuerzburg
Field of study
  • Biology

Publications

Publications (87)
Article
Full-text available
Recently, comparative research on the mechanisms and species-specific adaptive values of attributing attentive states and using communicative cues has gained increased interest, particularly in non-human primates, birds, and dogs. Here, we investigate these phenomena in a farm animal species, the dwarf goat (Capra aegagrus hircus). In the first exp...
Article
Full-text available
Domestication is an important factor driving changes in animal cognition and behaviour. In particular, the capacity of dogs to communicate in a referential and intentional way with humans is considered a key outcome of how domestication as a companion animal shaped the canid brain. However, the lack of comparison with other domestic animals makes g...
Article
Full-text available
Emotions can be defined as an individual’s affective reaction to an external and/or internal event that, in turn, generates a simultaneous cascade of behavioural, physiological, and cognitive changes. Those changes that can be perceived by conspecifics have the potential to also affect other’s emotional states, a process labelled as “emotional cont...
Article
Full-text available
Farm animal welfare is a major concern for society and food production. To more accurately evaluate animal farming in general and to avoid exposing farm animals to poor welfare situations, it is necessary to understand not only their behavioural but also their cognitive needs and capacities. Thus, general knowledge of how farm animals perceive and...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive research in long-lived species commonly involves using the same animals in different experiments. It is unclear whether the participation in cognitive tests can notably alter the performance of individuals in subsequent conceptually different tests. We therefore investigated whether exposure to cognitive tests affects future test performa...
Article
The Open Science movement aims at ensuring accessibility, reproducibility and transparency of research. The adoption of Open Science practices in animal science, however, is still at an early stage. To move ahead as a field, we here provide seven practical steps to embrace Open Science in animal science. We hope that this paper contributes to the s...
Article
Full-text available
Animal science researchers have the obligation to reduce, refine, and replace the usage of animals in research (3R principles). Adherence to these principles can be improved by transparently publishing research findings, data and protocols. Open Science (OS) can help to increase the transparency of many parts of the research process, and its implem...
Article
Full-text available
Current evidence suggests that frequent exposure to situations in which captive animals can solve cognitive tasks may have positive effects on stress responsiveness and thus on welfare. However, confounding factors often hamper the interpretation of study results. In this study, we used human-presented object-choice tests (in form of visual discrim...
Article
Full-text available
Given that domestication provided animals with more stable environmental conditions, artificial selection by humans has likely affected animals' ability to learn novel contingencies and their ability to adapt to changing environments. In addition, the selection for specific traits in domestic animals might have an additional impact on subjects' beh...
Preprint
Full-text available
The ability of cattle to adapt to husbandry systems and routines is crucial for the functionality of the production. However, this ability can be compromised by our limited knowledge of their cognitive abilities, which may result in suboptimal husbandry and management standards. In this scoping review, we highlight three key topics of cattle cognit...
Preprint
Full-text available
The Open Science movement aims at ensuring accessibility, reproducibility and transparency of research. The adoption of Open Science practices in animal science, however, is still at an early stage. To move ahead as a field, we here provide seven practical steps to embrace Open Science in animal science. We hope that this paper contributes to the s...
Article
Full-text available
Many frameworks have assessed the ultimate and ontogenetic underpinnings in the development of object permanence, but less is known about whether individual characteristics, such as sex or training level, as well as proximate factors, such as arousal or emotional state, affect performance in these tasks. The current study investigated horses’ perfo...
Article
Full-text available
Emotions are an essential part of how we experience our world. Humans can express emotions by telling others how we feel—but what about animals? How can we tell whether they experience emotions and, if they do, which ones? When we think about the animals under human care, it is not only scientifically interesting but also ethically important to und...
Article
Full-text available
Many frameworks have assessed the ultimate and ontogenetic underpinnings in the development of object permanence, but less is known about whether individual characteristics, such as sex or training level, as well as proximate factors, such as arousal or emotional state, affect performance in these tasks. The current study investigated horses’ perfo...
Preprint
Full-text available
A significant proportion of research is directly or indirectly supported through public funding. It is therefore imperative to make obtained scientific findings freely accessible and the way this knowledge is generated as transparently as possible. However, the traditional scientific publication system involves a number of obstacles likely to hinde...
Book
Full-text available
Whilst humans undisputedly shape and transform most of earth's habitats, the number of animals (domestic and wild) living on this planet far outnumbers that of humans. Inevitably, humans have to interact with animals under a variety of circumstances, such as during conservation efforts, wildlife and zoo management, livestock husbandry, and pet keep...
Preprint
Full-text available
Artificial selection by humans has likely affected an animal’s ability to learn novel contingencies and their ability to adapt to changing environments. In addition, the selection for specific traits in domestic animals might have an additional impact on subjects' behavioural flexibility, but also their general learning performance, due to a re-all...
Poster
Full-text available
Object permanence refers to an individual’s understanding that an object continues to exist even though it is out of its sight. In their daily management, horses are often faced with novel and sudden stimuli (re-)appearing from occluded areas that potentially may elicit stress responses. Knowledge of horses’ ability to track hidden objects can thus...
Preprint
Full-text available
Many frameworks have assessed the ultimate and ontogenetic underpinnings in the development of object permanence, but less is known about whether individual characteristics, such as sex or training level, as well as proximate factors, such as arousal or emotional state, affect performance in these tasks. The current study investigated horses' perfo...
Article
Full-text available
Whilst humans undisputedly shape and transform most of earth's habitats, the number of animals (captive and wild) living on this planet far outnumbers that of humans. Humans, therefore, inevitably interact with different animals in a variety of contexts: we keep them for companionship, farm them for their products, use them for biomedical research,...
Presentation
Plenary presentation Abstract: Dairy cattle are managed in modern housing systems on a daily basis. Behaving in these systems requires different aspects of cognitive functioning, ranging from simply locating food, to manoeuvre e.g. an automatic milking robot. As our current knowledge about cattle cognition and learning is still limited we need to a...
Article
Full-text available
In this commentary, we discuss three replicability issues that are specifically relevant to research regarding farm animal welfare: (1) Legislative action, and its potential economic consequences, should derive from robust and replicable research to benefit animals kept in an industrial setting. (2) From an ethical perspective, the use of relativel...
Article
Full-text available
Replications are widely considered an essential tool to evaluate scientific claims. However, many fields have recently reported that replication rates are low and - when they are conducted - many findings do not successfully replicate. These circumstances have led to widespread debates about the value of replications for research quality, credibili...
Article
Full-text available
The ability to adapt to changing environments is crucial for survival and has evolved based on socio-ecological factors. Goats and sheep are closely related, with similar social structures, body sizes and domestication levels, but different feeding ecologies, i.e. goats are browsers and sheep are grazers. We investigated whether goats' reliance on...
Chapter
Full-text available
Understanding the cognitive capacities of cattle is central when designing husbandry environments and developing handling regimes. In this chapter, we outline the current knowledge on cattle learning and cognition, with special emphasis on their socio-cognitive capacities. Cattle easily learn features and spatial cues and can remember these for a l...
Article
Full-text available
Contrafreeloading (CFL) is the phenomenon when animals work for a resource although an identical resource is available for free. Possible explanations for CFL are that animals seek context for species-specific behaviours or to control their environments. We investigated whether goats show CFL and whether breeding for productivity traits has altered...
Conference Paper
Zusammenfassung Contrafreeloading (CFL) beschreibt das Phänomen, wenn Tiere freiwillig für eine Ressour-ce arbeiten, obwohl diese zeitgleich frei zur Verfügung steht. Erklärungen hierfür sind das Bedürfnis, artspezifisches Verhalten auszuführen oder Kontrolle über die Umgebung zu ge-winnen. In dieser Studie wurde untersucht, ob Ziegen für eine Ress...
Conference Paper
Grundlegendes Wissen, inwieweit die Selektion auf unterschiedliche Zuchtziele neben Produktionsmerkmalen auch die kognitiven Fähigkeiten innerhalb einer Art verändert hat, ist von großer Relevanz, um Tierwohl langfristig zu verbessern. Wir untersuchten die kognitiven Fähigkeiten von Zwergziegen (keine Zucht auf Produktivität, 15 Tiere) und Milchzie...
Article
Full-text available
Goats show high flexibility when faced with changing foraging and environmental conditions, as well as dynamic social settings. Their origins in complex natural environments have equipped them with a sophisticated behavioural repertoire grounded in a series of cognitive capacities. We outline examples of how goats navigate feeding, spatial and soci...
Article
Full-text available
Altering one’s emotional state in response to the emotional expressions of others, called emotional contagion, is a well-studied phenomenon in humans and many nonhuman animals. Here we describe the methods that are typically used to assess changes in the emotional state in demonstrators and the transmission of emotions to naïve observers. We then r...
Poster
Full-text available
EasieRR is an open-source software for artefact correction and HRV analysis using ECG data obtained from unrestrained animals
Preprint
Full-text available
In research conducted on animals, we often encounter a trade-off between the need to replicate studies and the concerns about the welfare of the animals involved (Prescott & Lidster, 2017).This is particularly relevant when experiments involve sub-optimal housing conditions (e.g. when animals are kept alone or when housing conditions are barren) an...
Article
Full-text available
Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are extremely adept in interpreting human-given cues, such as the pointing gesture. However, the underlying mechanisms on how domestic non-companion species use these cues are not well understood. We investigated the use of human-given pointing gestures by goats (Capra hircus) in an object choice task, where an experim...
Article
Full-text available
Throughout their evolutionary history, humans have tried to domesticate a variety of wild terrestrial mammals, resulting in a limited number that has been successfully domesticated. Among these domesticated species, domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) are a useful model species to study the effects of ontogenesis on the socio-cognitive abilities...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are extremely adept in interpreting human-given cues, such as the pointing gesture. However, the underlying mechanisms on how domestic non-companion species use these cues are not well understood. We investigated the use of human-given pointing gestures by goats (Capra hircus) in an object-choice task, where an experim...
Article
Full-text available
Dogs and cats use human emotional information directed to an unfamiliar situation to guide their behavior, known as social referencing. It is not clear whether other domestic species show similar socio-cognitive abilities in interacting with humans. We investigated whether horses (n = 46) use human emotional information to adjust their behavior to...
Presentation
Full-text available
In a time when most conferences, workshops and seminars have been cancelled or postponed, we have to look for alternatives to network with our peer community and to keep them up to date about our research. I will here showcase easy-to-implement examples on how to increase the online visibility of your projects and publications, as well as your acad...
Book
Full-text available
Research on animal learning and cognition has so far mainly focused on a few prominent model species, including primates, corvids and dogs. For years, comparative psychologists and ethologists have been suggesting that more animal species should be considered in comparative cognitive science. The abundance and accessibility of livestock offer an op...
Article
Full-text available
Research on the mental lives of farm animals is crucial to assess not only their physical but also their psychological wellbeing. Their current housing and handling practices are highly unlikely to meet their cognitive needs and demands, but our knowledge of their mental capacities is still limited. Although folk wisdom often refers to farm animals...
Article
Full-text available
The welfare of farmed animals is of major concern for society and food production (1–3). Of increasing relevance for understanding welfare is the knowledge on how farmanimals perceive and deal with their physical and social environment. This information is crucial for applied ethology as it allows management practices to be adjusted to suit the ani...
Article
Full-text available
Functional asymmetries, e.g. the preferential involvement of one brain hemisphere to process stimuli, may increase brain efficiency and the capacity to carry out tasks simultaneously. We investigated which hemisphere was primarily involved in processing acoustic stimuli in goats using a head-orienting paradigm. Three playbacks using goat vocalisati...
Article
Full-text available
In addition to domestication, interactions with humans or task-specific training during ontogeny have been proposed to play a key role in explaining differences in human–animal communication across species. In livestock, even short-term positive interactions with caretakers or other reference persons can influence human–animal interaction at differ...
Article
Children younger than 3 years of age often fail to track hidden objects that are rotated together with identical hiding containers, which might be due to relatively complex paradigms. We examined whether 2-year-olds (N = 28) are already able to track spatial rotations (i.e., by 90° and 180°) if the task is facilitated by increasing the visual discr...
Article
Full-text available
Domestication has shaped the physiology and the behaviour of animals to better adapt to human environments. Therefore, human facial expressions may be highly informative for animals domesticated for working closely with people, such as dogs and horses. However, it is not known whether other animals, and particularly those domesticated primarily for...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioural lateralization consists of perceptual and motor lateralization and provides adaptive advantages such as a general increase in brain efficiency. Motor laterality refers to the preferred use of either left or right limbs or organs to perform a specific task. We investigated motor laterality in goats (Capra hircus), using the First-steppin...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioural and cognitive processes play important roles in mediating an individual's interactions with its environment. Yet, while there is a vast literature on repeatable individual differences in behaviour, relatively little is known about the repeatability of cognitive performance. To further our understanding of the evolution of cognition, we...
Article
Full-text available
Simple Summary Horses were confronted with a spatial problem-solving task in which they had to detour an obstacle. Individuals that observed a human demonstrating how to solve the task did not solve the task more often or faster compared with a control group without demonstration. However, horses of both the treatment and control group detoured the...
Preprint
Full-text available
Horses’ ability to adapt to new environments and to acquire new information plays an important role in handling and training. Social learning in particular would be very adaptive for horses as it enables them to flexibly adapt to new environments. In the context of horse handling, social learning from humans has been rarely investigated but could h...
Article
Full-text available
Gaze following is widespread among animals. However, the corresponding ultimate functions may vary substantially. Thus, it is important to study previously understudied (or less studied) species to develop a better understanding of the ecological contexts that foster certain cognitive traits. Penguins (Family Spheniscidae), despite their wide inter...
Article
Full-text available
A detailed understanding of how livestock animals perceive and communicate with stockpersons is crucial to improving their welfare by means of positive human-animal interactions. However, research regarding the cognitive underpinnings of these interactions in ungulate livestock is still limited. In this review article, I summarize recent advances o...
Article
Full-text available
Animals domesticated for working closely with humans (e.g. dogs) have been shown to be remarkable in adjusting their behaviour to human attentional stance. However, there is little evidence for this form of information perception in species domesticated for production rather than companionship. We tested domestic ungulates (goats) for their ability...
Data
ESM video. Video depicts a test trial from Experiment 3. Test condition ‘Eyes closed’.
Article
Full-text available
Variation in common personality traits, such as boldness or exploration, is often associated with risk–reward trade–offs and behavioural flexibility. To date, only a few studies have examined the effects of consistent behavioural traits on both learning and cognition. We investigated whether certain personality traits (‘exploration’ and ‘sociabilit...
Article
Full-text available
Animal emotional states can be investigated by evaluating their impact on cognitive processes. In this study, we used a judgement bias paradigm to determine if short-term positive human-animal interaction (grooming) induced a positive affective state in goats. We tested two groups of goats and trained them to discriminate between a rewarded and a n...
Data
Raw data Raw data for Experiment 1 (judgment bias training and test). Characteristics of goats tested in the judgement bias experiment and variables considered: ID, sex, age, condition, reward side, day, location, latency time in s, and reciprocal transformation of latency time. Raw data for Experiment 2 (physiological parameters during grooming)....
Article
Full-text available
Tracking objects that are hidden and then moved is a crucial ability related to object permanence, which develops across several stages in early childhood. In spatial rotation tasks, children observe a target object that is hidden in one of two or more containers before the containers are rotated around a fixed axis. Usually, 30-month-olds fail to...
Article
Full-text available
Domestication drives changes in animal cognition and behaviour. In particular, the capacity of dogs to socially learn from humans is considered a key outcome of how domestication shaped the canid brain. However, systematic evidence for social learning from humans in other domestic species is lacking and makes general conclusions about how domestica...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding human-animal interactions in livestock production systems is crucial for improving animal welfare. It is therefore of general interest to investigate how livestock animals obtain information from humans. By using an object-choice paradigm, we investigated whether domestic pigs (n = 4) are able to use a variety of human-given cues, suc...
Article
Full-text available
Being able to recognise when one is being observed by someone else is thought to be adaptive during cooperative or competitive events. In particular for prey species, this ability should be of use in the context of predation. A previous study reported that goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) alter their behaviour according to the body and head orientatio...
Chapter
Ethologists and philosophers increasingly understand (some) animals as individuals with complex socio-cognitive abilities. However, strong animal rights claims linked to such abilities have been pushed for great apes and dolphins, but not yet for any farm animal species. We hypothesize that the reason for this is not because farm animals lack moral...
Article
Full-text available
Recently, foraging strategies have been linked to the ability to use indirect visual information. More selective feeders should express a higher aversion against losses compared to non-selective feeders and should therefore be more prone to avoid empty food locations. To extend these findings, in this study, we present a series of studies investiga...