social behaviour

Main focus

Social behaviour is a key determinant of animal welfare, as it organises many of the cognitive and affective processes that domestic animals employ in their daily lives. We study the benefits of social behaviour, as factors that promote mental and physical health and well-being. Topics include positive social interactions, social relationships, prosocial behaviour, social support and socio-behavioural development in young animals. Our team uses a multi-disciplinary approach combining animal behaviour, physiology and neuroscience. The aim is to identify improvements in animal management that take advantage of the benefits of social behaviour in practice.

Research Projects 

  • Relationships between salivary oxytocin and the behaviour of pigs, cattle and goats during interactions with humans
  • Intra- and interspecific social bonds in pigs 


Camerlink, I., Menneson, S., Turner, S.P., Farish, M., Arnott, G. 2018. Cerebral lateralization during contest behaviour between domestic pigs. Scientific Reports 1;

Rault, J.-L., van den Munkkhof, M. , Buiman-Pijlman, F. 2017. Oxytocin as an indicator of psychological and social well-being in domesticated species: A critical review. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 1521.

Yee, J. R., Kenkel, W. M., Frijling, J. L., Dodhia, S., Onishi, K. G., Tovar, S., Saber, M.J., Lewis, G.F., Liu, W.S., Porges, S.W., Carter, C. S. 2016. Oxytocin promotes functional coupling between paraventricular nucleus and both sympathetic and parasympathetic cardioregulatory nuclei. Hormones and Behavior, 80, 82-91.

Camerlink, I., Reimert, I., & Bolhuis, J. E. 2016. Intranasal oxytocin administration in relationship to social behaviour in domestic pigs. Physiology & Behavior, 163, 51-55.

Rault, J.-L. 2016. Effects of positive and negative human contacts and intranasal oxytocin on cerebrospinal fluid oxytocin. Psychoneuroendocrinology 69: 60-66.

Yee, J.R. Kenkel, W.M., Kulkarni, P., Moore, K., Perkeybile, A.M., Toddes, S., Amacker, J.A., Carter, C.S., Ferris, C.F. 2016. BOLD fMRI in awake prairie voles: A platform for translational social and affective neuroscience. NeuroImage, 138: 221-232.

Camerlink, I., Turner, S. P. 2013. The pig's nose and its role in dominance relationships and harmful behaviour. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 145: 84-91.


Head and working group leader

Jean-Loup Rault

Univ.-Prof. Jean-Loup Rault PhD.
T +43 1 25077-6993; 4900
E-Mail to Jean-Loup Rault



Dr. Irene Camerlink MSc.
T +43 1 25077-6929
E-Mail to Irene Camerlink


Dipl.-Ing. Claire Toinon
T +43 1 25077-4903
E-Mail to Claire Toinon


Jason Yee PhD.
T +43 1 25077-6994
E-Mail to Jason Yee