Marek Spinka

Marek Spinka
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague | CULS · Department of Ethology and Companion Animal Science

Doctor of Philosophy

About

129
Publications
33,664
Reads
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3,944
Citations
Additional affiliations
April 1998 - June 1998
University of Colorado Boulder
Position
  • Fulbright scholar
January 1987 - May 2016
Institute of Animal Science, Prague
Position
  • Senior Researcher
September 1976 - June 1981
Charles University in Prague
Position
  • Master's Student

Publications

Publications (129)
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to map farm animal welfare university education in an enlarged Europe with emphasis on identifying existing differences and gaps. Information on 210 courses dealing with farm animal welfare from 98 universities in 26 European countries were obtained. Statistical analysis was carried out on 155 of these courses within anima...
Article
Full-text available
Vocal expression of emotions has been observed across species and could provide a non-invasive and reliable means to assess animal emotions. We investigated if pig vocal indicators of emotions revealed in previous studies are valid across call types and contexts, and could potentially be used to develop an automated emotion monitoring tool. We perf...
Preprint
Full-text available
Most dairy calves are housed individually in their early ontogeny but there is an increasing interest in housing calves socially. Social housing has many positive effects on calf welfare including an advantage of social buffering, i.e., when negative effects of stress are mitigated through social support of familiar conspecific. So far, social buff...
Article
Full-text available
Behavioural cooperation is under intense research. Yet, popular experimental paradigms often employ artificial tasks, require training, or do not permit partner choice, possibly limiting their biological relevance. We developed the joint log-lift task, a social foraging paradigm in which animals have to jointly lift a log to each obtain a food rewa...
Article
Full-text available
Individual housing of dairy calves prevails in Europe and North America despite its negative effects on calf development. One of the main reasons is that farmers find individual housing of calves more practical than group housing. A compromise between practice and welfare could be housing calves in pairs. Therefore, we aimed to compare health, feed...
Article
Full-text available
Play is a strong outwardly directed, emotional behaviour and can contagiously spread between individuals. It has been suggested that high-playing animals could ‘seed’ play in others, spreading positive affective states. Despite the current interest in play contagion there has been no previous attempt to measure the strength of the play contagion ef...
Conference Paper
Prosocial behaviours have mainly been studied for their proximate mechanisms and evolutionary functions, especially in cognitive biology and behavioural ecology, but their implications for animal welfare remain poorly understood. This is due to a lack of research rather than null findings. We developed a paradigm to encourage cooperative behaviour...
Article
As dairy cows’ needs and demands change over the different phases of their reproductive cycle, regrouping is common practice in dairy farming to facilitate management and handling. However, social instability associated with regrouping is known to have negative effects on the cows, including disturbances in their lying behaviour. In this study, we...
Article
Under natural conditions cows and their calves live together. In dairy practice, calves are separated from their mothers within hours after birth and then housed individually. This study investigated the effects of the presence of the dam during the colostrum feeding period and subsequent group housing during early ontogeny on reproduction, milk pe...
Article
Play behavior is a promising welfare indicator in dairy calves because it decreases in negative situations such as pain or hunger and increases in positive contexts such as in appropriate social environments. Directly measuring play is time consuming because it is performed in irregular bouts and can be inconsistent over days. To facilitate automat...
Article
Full-text available
Individual housing of dairy calves is common farm practice, but has negative effects on calf welfare. A compromise between practice and welfare may be housing calves in pairs. We compared learning performances and affective states as assessed in a judgement bias task of individually housed and pair-housed calves. Twenty-two calves from each housing...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Pair housing improves welfare of dairy calves over individual housing and, at the same time, may be more practical than group housing. However, there is almost no research done on effects of pair housing on calf behaviour in novel situations. Moreover, little is known about the effects of individual variability in calves behaviour in novel situatio...
Preprint
Emotions, unlike mood, are short-lived reactions associated with specific events. They can be characterized by two main dimensions, their arousal (bodily activation) and valence (negative versus positive). Knowledge of the valence of emotions experienced by domestic and captive animals is crucial for assessing and improving their welfare, as it ena...
Preprint
Full-text available
Emotions, unlike mood, are short-lived reactions associated with specific events. They can be characterized by two main dimensions, their arousal (bodily activation) and valence (negative versus positive). Knowledge of the valence of emotions experienced by domestic and captive animals is crucial for assessing and improving their welfare, as it ena...
Preprint
Individual housing of dairy calves is common farm practice, but has negative effects on calf welfare. A compromise between practice and welfare may be housing calves in pairs. We compared learning performances and affective states as assessed in a judgement bias task of individually housed and pair-housed calves. Twenty-two calves from each housing...
Article
1.Identity signals have been studied for over 50 years but, and somewhat remarkably, there is no consensus as to how to quantify individuality in animal signals. While there are a variety of different metrics to quantify individuality, these methods remain un‐validated and the relationships between them unclear. 2.We contrasted three univariate and...
Article
Animals living in social proximity often have similar vocalizations. For many bird and several mammal species, at least part of the vocal similarity is socially learned during ontogeny. Little is known, however, about the ontogenetic origin of vocal similarities among siblings in polytocous mammals. We investigated the influence of social environme...
Preprint
Identity signals have been studied for over 50 years but there is no consensus as to how to quantify individuality. While there are a variety of different metrics to quantify individual identity, or individuality, these methods remain un-validated and the relationships between them unclear. We contrasted three univariate and four multivariate metri...
Article
In nature, animals need to actively engage with the environment in order to prosper in survival and reproduction. Hence, agency is a central adaptive characteristic of animal life. In this paper, I propose that from the adaptive/functional point of view, four levels of agency can be distinguished, namely passive/reactive agency (animal being behavi...
Article
Full-text available
Piglet vocalization rates are used as welfare indicators. The emission rates of the two gross categories of piglet calls, namely low frequency calls (‘grunts’) and high frequency calls (‘screams’), may contain different information about the piglet’s internal state due to differing communicative functions of the two call types. More knowledge is ne...
Chapter
Full-text available
Positive welfare is a relatively new concept when considered from the perspective of intensive pig farming which predominates in the global production of pork meat. First, the scientific literature is predominately focused on what can be regarded as more negative aspects of pig welfare and most heavily weighted towards the last hours or days of t...
Chapter
This third edition of "Animal Welfare" has 407 pages and is divided into five parts. Part I, Issues, introduces the background and philosophy of the subject. Part II covers problems for animal welfare, starting in chapter 3 with the animal's interactions with its environment. The following four chapters use categories similar to the UK Farm Animal...
Book
Advances in Pig Welfare analyzes current topical issues in the key areas of pig welfare assessment and improvement. With coverage of both recent developments and reviews of historical welfare issues, the volume provides a comprehensive survey of the field. The book is divided into two sections. Part One opens with an overview of main welfare challe...
Chapter
This third edition book with 19 chapters on domestic animal ethology is divided into two parts: Part A contains the basic elements of animal behaviour (chapter I, the study of animal behaviour and its application; chapter II, behaviour genetics, evolution and domestication; chapter III, behaviour and physiology; chapter IV, motivation and the organ...
Article
Many studies have shown that animal vocalizations can signal individual identity and group/family membership. However, much less is known about the ontogeny of identity information—when and how this individual/group distinctiveness in vocalizations arises and how it changes during the animal's life. Recent findings suggest that even species that we...
Article
The aim of this study was to investigate whether beef cows that achieve higher dominance status than their age-mates have prolonged reproductive life, increased number of offspring born and weaned, and/or heavier BW of the offspring. We also assessed whether maternal dominance rank affects the offspring sex ratio. We recorded data on 309 potential...
Article
Abrupt weaning as practiced in beef cattle husbandry is stressful for both the cow and her offspring. However, the reaction to weaning varies among individuals. Based on the theory of maternal care allocation, we derived and tested the following hypotheses: 1) cow reaction to weaning will be stronger if the calf is young, if the calf is a female, a...
Article
Abrupt weaning as practiced in beef cattle husbandry is stressful for both the cow and her offspring. However, the reaction to weaning varies among individuals. Based on the theory of maternal care allocation, we derived and tested the following hypotheses: 1) cow reaction to weaning will be stronger if the calf is young, if the calf is a female, a...
Article
Full-text available
This study tested whether emotional contagion occurs when piglets directly observe a penmate in distress (restraint) and whether there is an effect of previous experience on the response to subsequent restraint or exposure to conspecific distress. Piglets (49.7 ± 0.7 days) were exposed in pairs to two stress phases (SP1 and SP2) in an arena divided...
Article
In domestic cattle, the relationship between dominance and allogrooming behaviour has been investigated in several studies. However, the results do not show a consistent pattern. The aim of this study was to investigate this relationship in a stable female beef cattle herd using Social Network Analysis as a novel methodological approach. We tested...
Article
The metacommunication hypothesis asserts that some elements of play behaviour are associated with play elements borrowed from aggression and interpret these aggression-like elements as playful. Using data from free living Hanuman langurs ( Semnopithecus entellus), we tested three predictions that follow from the metacommunication hypothesis: (i) ag...
Article
Full-text available
Humans as well as many animal species reveal their emotional state in their voice. Vocal features show strikingly similar correlation patterns with emotional states across mammalian species, suggesting that the vocal expression of emotion follows highly conserved signalling rules. To fully understand the principles of emotional signalling in mammal...
Article
Full-text available
Play behavior positively affects welfare of farm animals, yet impoverished social environment during early ontogeny may limit the opportunity or motivation to play. This study investigated the independent and the combined effects of the presence of the dam during the colostrum feeding period and subsequent group housing on play behavior and growth...
Article
Full-text available
The group is an essential resource for gregarious animals. Dairy cows are however frequently (re-)grouped according to productivity and reproductive state leading to an unstable social environment for the animals. The present study aimed at investigating whether cows maintain social relationships in a dynamic group. Therefore we analysed whether mo...
Article
Full-text available
Preverbal infants often vocalize in emotionally loaded situations, yet the communicative potential of these vocalizations is not well understood. The aim of our study was to assess how accurately adult listeners extract information about the eliciting situation from infant preverbal vocalizations. Vocalizations of 19 infants aged 5-10 months were r...
Article
Full-text available
The vocal expression of emotion is likely driven by shared physiological principles among species. However, which acoustic features promote decoding of emotional state and how the decoding is affected by ther listener's psychology remain poorly understood. Here we tested how acoustic features of piglet vocalizations interact with psychological prof...
Chapter
Nursing behavior in domestic pigs differs between the colostral period and later lactation. During the initial period of colostrum production, the sow passively exposes her udder and thus gives newborn piglets the opportunity to freely harvest colostrum by moving from teat to teat. Nursing behavior in swine is particularly complex because of specif...
Article
Full-text available
This study examined whether piglet distress vocalizations vary with age, body weight and health status, according to the predictions of the honest signalling of need evolutionary model. Vocalizations were recorded during manual squeezing (a simulation of being crushed by mother sow) and during isolation on Days 1 and 7 after birth in piglets from 1...
Article
Full-text available
Dominance hierarchies in groups of social animals can be based either on asymmetries that are important for agonistic interactions (such as body mass) or on more ‘conventional’ cues (such as age), which are respected despite having little relationship to the animal's fighting abilities. We investigated how social dominance is influenced by age and...
Article
Full-text available
Two important questions in bioacoustics are whether vocal repertoires of animals are graded or discrete and how the vocal expressions are linked to the context of emission. Here we address these questions in an ungulate species. The vocal repertoire of young domestic pigs, Sus scrofa, was quantitatively described based on 1513 calls recorded in 11...
Data
Call parameters measured for each call. (DOCX)
Data
Results of discriminant analyses with call clusters as grouping variable. A. 2-cluster solution and B. 5-cluster solution. (DOCX)
Data
Mean ± standard error of acoustic parameters for each cluster. (DOCX)
Article
Beef cows’ maternal care is essential for calf survival and fitness. In this study, we assessed the consistency of maternal care within and between lactations and investigated whether maternal care increases with mother's parity and body condition and whether mothers care more intensely for males and for calves with lower body weight. The Trivers–W...
Article
Synchronization of nursings occurs between domestic lactating sows housed in one room. This study tested experimentally whether acoustic contact without any possibility to see other sows is sufficient for a high level of nursing synchronization. Secondly, the study investigated whether the possibility to synchronize with other sows affects positive...
Article
Full-text available
Two important questions in bioacoustics are whether vocal repertoires of animals are graded or discrete and how the vocal expressions are linked to the context of emission. Here we address these questions in an ungulate species. The vocal repertoire of young domestic pigs, Sus scrofa, was quantitatively described based on 1513 calls recorded in 11...
Article
Animal emotions are central to the concept of animal welfare. So far, emotions have been investigated in animal welfare science as within-individual phenomena, i.e. coordinating mechanisms that guide the animal to take appropriate action. However, emotions include an important social dimension. The social side of emotions is being intensely investi...
Article
In domestic pigs, about 20% of nursing episodes end without milk transfer (non-nutritive nursings, NNNs). The function of NNNs has not been satisfactorily explained yet. Here, we suggest that NNNs may be a part of an honest signaling system that enables the sow to provide more frequent nutritive nursings (NNs) to those litters that can prove their...
Article
Full-text available
Lameness is one of the most serious health and welfare problems in dairy cattle. The aim of this study was to assess the awareness of Czech farm managers of this problem. The project was carried out on 14 Czech dairy farms. The proportion of lame cows observed (i.e. prevalence of moderate and severe lameness) on a farm varied between 9 and 64% whil...
Article
Full-text available
Play has long been identified as a potential welfare indicator because it often disappears when animals are under fitness challenge and because it is thought to be accompanied by a pleasurable emotional experience. But animal play is a vexing behavioural phenomenon, characteristically flexible and variable within and between species, with its proxi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Challenges are there to be overcome – seen usually as problems to avoid rather than as opportunities to enjoy. However, for humans a life without challenge would be likely to be dull and boring, lacking the enthusiasm and satisfaction that come with individual development. Could this also be true for animals? This chapter looks at the positive valu...
Article
The role of dominant individuals in leading groups of animals is not yet well understood. We investigated whether dominant beef cows, Bos taurus, have more influence on herd movement on pasture than more subordinate cows. A herd of 15 Gasconne cows was observed for a 3-week period between dawn and dusk. The positions of all adult cows were recorded...
Article
In the pig industry, piglets are weaned earlier than in nature. Early weaning has an impact on piglet growth and feeding behaviour, but this may differ, apart from the weaning age, according to the housing environment. Piglets from sow group housing systems (GH), where several litters and sows live together, may be better prepared for weaning than...
Article
For groups of animals to keep together, the group members have to perform switches between staying in one place and moving to another place in synchrony. However, synchronization imposes a cost on individual animals, because they have to switch from one to the other behaviour at a communal time rather than at their ideal times. Here we model this s...
Article
Full-text available
Interspecific communication between humans and pets is possible through vocal cues. We studied how humans with differing experience with domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) interpret pig vocalizations. Forty-eight ethologists studying pigs, 31 pig-caretakers and 54 naive students evaluated the emotional intensity and valence (negative/positive) of recording...
Article
Dairy cattle spend, on average, between 8 and 15h/d lying down. Our objective was to describe the laterality of lying behaviour and assess several internal and external factors that may affect laterality. Internal factors included time spent and time since eating or lying before choosing to lie down again. External factors included the slope and th...
Article
Full-text available
Play behavior has been viewed as a mixture of elements drawn from "serious" behavior, interspersed by ritualized play signals. Two other types of play behaviors have been overlooked: patterns that are dissimilar from any serious behavior and patterns with self-handicapping character, that is, those that put the animal into unnecessary disadvantageo...
Chapter
Full-text available
The welfare of pregnant sows is often compromised around feeding; they may be frustrated through waiting for the food and there is a risk of aggression around feeding. One candidate measure of the perceived stressfulness of the feeding time in sows is their vocalization. Sixteen groups of 3-6 pregnant sows were observed between 10 min before and 15...
Article
Full-text available
We evaluated how the behavioural and heart rate response of dairy cows and calves to mutual separation was affected by two factors: the age of the calf at separation (1, 4 and 7 days) and the presence or absence of visual and auditory contact between the mother and her calf after separation. In total, 46 cow–calf pairs were randomly allocated to on...