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From the individual to the population – and back again? Emphasising the role of the individual in animal welfare science

Richter, Sophie Helene, Hintze, Sara
Applied animal behaviour science 2019 v.212 pp. 1-8
animal behavior, animal welfare, hands, humans, personality
During the past decades, the study of “animal personalities” has gained increasing importance in the field of behavioural and evolutionary ecology, thereby contributing to a focus shift from the population to the individual in various research disciplines. Against this background, the overall idea of the present review is to transfer the personality concept from behavioural ecology to animal welfare science, to discuss the role of the individual in different research approaches and to pave new grounds for a more individual-tailored assessment and treatment of welfare-related problems. Moreover, we will explicitly refer to welfare issues “beyond the average”, thereby addressing problems that are not entirely covered by simply studying personality traits in animal welfare research. By combining two different fields, we hope to stimulate more theoretical and empirical work on this topic to find new ways of improving the welfare of animals in human hands even at the individual level.