“Here’s a treat for you!” – Dogs share food with other dogs even in complex situations

Humans aren’t the only species to exhibit behaviour benefiting others of their kind, such as helping or sharing. Dogs also share their food, albeit mainly with four-legged friends rather than strangers. A new study conducted by behavioural biologists from the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna has now confirmed this prosocial behaviour among canines. The more complex methodology of the study, however, showed that the experimental set-up has an impact on the dogs’ behaviour and that even the mere presence of another dog makes the animals more generous. On the other hand, prosocial dogs remained less charitable with unfamiliar partners. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information [Link 1]


Positive effect of winter dormancy on cold-blooded cognition

Unlike mammals, amphibians who rest-up during the winter do not forget the memories they made beforehand – this is the surprising discovery of new scientific research published. A new study, by researchers from the Messerli Research Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna and University Vienna and University of Lincoln, reveals that the processes involved in winter dormancy may have a fundamentally different impact on memory in amphibians and mammals. The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

More information [Link 2]


Award: Wolfgang Denk-Award for Josef Singer

Josef Singer receives the „Wolfgang Denk-Award“ of the Austrian Society for Hematology and Oncology (OeGHO) 2016

On occasion of the joint annual meeting of the German, Austrian and Swiss societies for hematology and medical oncology in Leipzig (14-18 October 2016), Dr. Josef Singer was selected for the work "Proof of concept study with HER-2 mimotope anticancer vaccine deduced from A novel AAV-mimotope library platform". [Link 3]

In April 2016 it has been published in the top journal" OncoImmunology ". The work was developed under supervision of Prof. Erika Jensen-Jarolim, Comparative Medicine of the MFI ( [Link 4]https://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/en/infoservice/presseinformationen/presseinformationen-2016/brustkrebs/). [Link ]

The Wolfgang Denk-Price of the OeGHO was created in memory of the surgeon and founder of the Austrian Cancer Research Institute Wolfgang Denk (1882-1970). Every year the price is awarded for scientific work in the field of clinical oncology. Dr. Josef Singer researched under the guidance of Prof. Erika Jensen-Jarolim at the Institute for Pathophysiology and Allergy Research at MedUni Vienna, and is now working as an assistant physician at the Landesklinikum Krems in Lower Austria.

 [Link 5]

Inhibitory control affects dogs’ problem-solving performance

10.02.2016: The ability to suppress one’s own impulses appears to affect problem-solving performance in dogs, according to a study by researchers from the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna. The study, in which 41 Border Collies had to solve a variety of challenges, showed that previous experience with similar tasks did not influence the success rate. Inhibitory control, however, does appear to have an influence. The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

full press release [Link 6]


Inequity Aversion Negatively Affects Tolerance and Contact-Seeking Behaviours towards Partner and Experimenter

Inequity aversion has been proposed to act as a limiting factor for cooperation, thus prevent- ing subjects from disadvantageous cooperative interactions. While a recent study revealed that also dogs show some sensitivity to inequity, the underlying mechanisms of this behaviour are still unclear. The aim of the current study was threefold: 1) to replicate the study by Range et al. (2009, PNAS, 106, 340–345); 2) to investigate the emotional mechanisms involved in the inequity response by measuring the heart rate and 3) to explore the link between inequity aversion and cooperation in terms of behaviours shown towards the part- ner dog and towards the experimenter who caused the inequity. [...]  

Results suggest that inequity aversion might in fact be mediated by simple emotional mechanisms: sharing a negative experience, like inequity, might reduce future cooperation by decreasing the likelihood of proximity being maintained between partners. 

full press release [Link 7]


Female frogs identify own offspring using inner GPS

15.03.2016: The ability to recognize our offspring and provide preferential care to our own young is nothing unusual for us. This is much more difficult for the poison frog Allobates femoralis, a highly polygamous species that produces rather indistinguishable tadpoles. According to a study conducted by the Messerli Research Institute of Vetmeduni Vienna, male and female frogs have different strategies for offspring discrimination. Females remember the exact location where they laid their eggs and exhibit preferential behaviour toward their own clutches. Males, on the other hand, assume that all offspring in their territory are their own. The study was published in the journal Animal Behaviour.

full press release [Link 8]


You can teach an old dog new tricks - but younger dogs learn faster

02.02.2016: Aging affects the cognitive abilities of dogs, as a recent study by the Clever Dog Lab of the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna shows. A team of behavioural scientists studied dogs of different ages working on a specially designed touchscreen computer and discovered that although all dogs were capable of learning, older dogs learnt more slowly than younger ones. No age-related differences were found regarding long-term memory. The results were published in the journal Age.

full press release [Link 9]


Conference: Moral agency in the relationship of humans, animals and machines

The capacity to moral reflection was so far reserved to humans. However, when animals and machines are interacting with us, who is responsible? Must we admit moral ability to them? Do only humans have rights and obligations? The expert conference will discuss current issues of the responsibility in relationships of humans, animals and machines.

Date: October 12 and 13, 2016

Place: Tutzing at the Starnberger See (near Munich)

The Unit Ethics and Human-Animal-Studies is co-organiser. For more information about the programme and the possibility of online registration, please visit the website of Institute TTN: http://www.ttn-institut.de/moral-agency [Link 10]


Minds of Animals: Reflections on the Human – non-Human Continuum

An international workshop at the University of Bern, September 27-28, 2016

More information [Link 11]

Call for Papers for doctoral students or early postdocs [Link 12]


Conference Announcement & Call for Abstracts: Ethics and the future Veterinary Professional

Utrecht, 19-20 May 2016

Utrecht University in cooperation with
Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Medical University of Vienna and University of Vienna, Austria
The European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics (EurSafe)
The Royal Netherlands Association of Veterinarians (KNMvD)
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE)

More information [Link 13]


Workshop: Animal Ethics and Law in Life Sciences

Research in life sciences can involve suffering and killing of animals. Whereas the ethical dimension is fundamental in other disciplines (e.g. medicine), it is rarely discussed in biology. This trans-disciplinary event aims to encourage an open debate about the issues connected to research involving animals, by providing perspectives of biologists, philosophers and lawyers.

March 17–18, 2016
University of Bern, Switzerland

More information [Link 14]


Conference: Animal Encounters: Human-Animal-Contacts in the Arts, Literature, Culture and the Sciences

International Conference at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Department for German and Comparative Studies

25th to 27th November 2016

Confirmed keynote speakers: Lori Gruen (Wesleyan University, Middletown CT),
Roland Borgards (Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg)

Call for Papers & more Information [Link 15]




Conference: Political Ecologies of Conflict, Capitalism and Contestation (PE-3C)

International Conference
7-9 July 2016, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Organised by: Wageningen University and School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London

Call for Papers and more information [Link 16]


13th Congress of the European Society for Agricultural and Food Ethics

Food futures: ethics, science and culture

EurSAFE 2016 is a forum for discussion of ethical issues around food, including production, consumption, marketing, policy and health. The future perspective and the utopian tradition as a driving force and inspiration for changes in society are central to the congress. However, general contributions to agricultural, animal and food ethics are also welcome.

University of Porto, Portugal
28 September - 1 October 2016

Call for papers and more information [Link 17]


Conference: 'With their skins on them, and ... their souls in them': Towards a Vegan Theory.

An Interdisciplinary Humanities Conference
31st May 2016
University of Oxford

Call for papers and more information [Link 18]




Wild Beasts. Images of Animal Aggression, Violence and Brutality

The international and interdisciplinary workshop, "Wild Beasts. Images of Animal Aggression, Violence and Brutality", aims to bring together and examine varying artistic approaches to animal ferocity and will highlight which features within these works, be they people, animals or nature, garnered emphasis and favor. This workshop will question the origins, models and functions of a fascination with aggression, violence and brutality that human beings attribute to animal behavior.

Hamburg, Wartburg-Haus

June 9-11, 2016

More information [Link 19]


Winchester Hunting Symposium

Hunting - a noble tradition or unconscionable cruelty?

A one-day symposium hosted by the Centre for Animal Welfare and the Institute for Value Studies

28 November 2015
St Alphege Building, King Alfred Campus
University of Winchester
Sparkford Road SO22 4NR

www.winchester.ac.uk/huntingsymposium [Link 20]


14th Triennial IAHAIO International Conference Paris

Unveiling a new paradigm: Hai in a mainstream

11-13 July 2016, Paris

More Information
 [Link 21]


Dogs are able to follow human gaze

(June 12, 2015) Dogs are known to be excellent readers of human body language in multiple situations. Surprisingly, however, scientists have so far found that dogs do not follow human gaze into distant space. Scientists at the Messerli Research Institute at the Vetmeduni Vienna investigated how this skill of dogs is influenced by aging, habituation and formal training. The outcome: Gaze following to human gaze cues did not differ over the dogs' lifespan, however, formal training was found to directly influence gaze following in dogs. The results were published in the journal Animal Behaviour [Link 22].

see article [Link 23]


Book: Comparative Medicine

In 2014 the book "Comparative Medicine - Anatomy and Physiology“ was published under the editorship of Erika Jensen-Jaorlim by Springer. With today 20,000 downloads it belongs to the top 25% of most often downloaded within Springer eBook Collection.
Erika Jensen-Jarolim represents the ipa- adjunct professor for Comparative Medicine to the  interuniversity Messerli Research Institute.
Link to Springer Homepage [Link 24]