Hosted by Reaseheath College, UK.

Invertebrates dominate life on Earth: it is believed that 97% of extant animal species belong to this spineless group. Having existed for much longer than vertebrates, they have developed a wide range of adaptations, breeding strategies, communicatory signals and coping mechanisms in order to adapt to their environments. Despite this rich background, invertebrates remain still relatively understudied, and many aspects of invertebrate welfare are little understood.

With invertebrates being housed within private and zoological collections, aquaria, farms and households, there is a need to better understand the welfare needs of these animals. Given the diversity within invertebrates and the differences in anatomy, behaviour and breeding, research created for vertebrates may not be relevant. This invertebrate welfare conference intends to address some of the most recent research to boost understanding of invertebrate needs. Lectures will cover topics including personality, enrichment, pain, lighting needs, cognition, and a workshop on invertebrate first aid (BIAZA Certified). Leading researchers and practitioners in the invertebrate science and care will be presenting their most current research and practical care experiences, allowing delegates to develop a strong understanding of invertebrate needs and individual preferences. This seminar is one of the first courses to focus specifically on invertebrate welfare and given the scarcity of invertebrate studies, there is a need to encourage further research to investigate the needs and preferences and practical implications for invertebrate welfare.

The seminar will be aimed at professional animal care staff from zoos, aquariums and research facilities, as well as animal welfare researchers and veterinarians concerned with the welfare of invertebrates in their care.


Would you like to present your work relating to invertebrate, research or practical? 3x15 minutes slots are available for oral presentations. It is also possible to present a poster. Abstracts (<200 words), including title and author information can be emailed to Sabrina Brando

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Frances Baines, M.A. Vet.M.B., M.R.C.V.S qualified from Cambridge Veterinary School in 1980. She is now retired from veterinary practice and has spent the last 12 years researching the use of specialist lighting, including ultraviolet lighting, in the husbandry of reptiles, amphibians and more recently, mammals, birds and invertebrates. She is an appointed Advisor to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) Reptile & Amphibian Working Group and Terrestrial Invertebrate Working Group, and to the newly established EAZA Animal Welfare Working Group (AWWG).
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Dr. Claudio Carere obtained his master degree at the University of Rome Sapienza with a study on parental behaviour of the common swift (Apus apus) and his PhD in Biology of Behaviour at the University of Groningen (NL), where he studied the expression of personalities in great tits (Parus major). He then moved at the University of Liège (BE), to study the neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying sexual and individual differences in birds. Later on he worked as executive scientist of the EU project STARFLAG (FP6) “Understanding patterns of animal group movements” aimed at unravelling mechanisms and functions of complex behaviours in avian flocks, and their collective emerging properties. Since 2009 he is member of the ASAB (Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour) ethics committee and the board of the association Ornis Italica ( and the Italian Ethology Society (SIE). Since 2010 he is adjunct professor of behaviour and ecology of marine animals at the University of Tuscia (Department of Ecological and Biological Sciences). Recently, Claudio has carried out research on behaviour and welfare of marine animals (especially crustaceans and cephalopods) and he is now appointed as Marie Curie Experienced Researcher at the University of Paris 13 (Laboratory of Experimental and Comparative Ethology) on a project on collective personality in ants and starlings. He is author of more than 60 scientific publications, editor of a volume on animal personalities (University of Chicago Press), editor of an upcoming volume on The Welfare of Invertebrate Animals (Springer), Associate Editor of the journal Current Zoology, and Academic Editor of PLOS ONE.
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Dr. Michael Kuba completed his PhD on the topic on of “Learning exploration and play in the common octopus" and postdoc on “Brain activity in active free moving octopuses" and “Motor-control and body awareness in cephalopods”. During his study time Michael spend much of his time working for NGOs (WWF, Four Paws and others) being doubtful if academia alone can have enough of an impact to make changes that benefit animals and the environment. After finishing a PhD at the University of Vienna he continued on Post Docs in New York and Jerusalem. Michael has worked as a scientist at Zoo Schönbrunn in Vienna working on public outreach programs, promoting scientific experiments and training of the animals in enrichment programs. He also was involved in several projects on species and habitat conservation promoted by the zoo. Michael went back to Jerusalem for 4 years to supervise the behavioural work carried out as part of the EU FP7 Projects "OCTOPUS" and "STIFF-FLOP". From there he moved on the the Max Planck for Brain Research to help set up and establish a research line on cephalopods - mainly working with Sepia. Today Michael continues to work on cephalopod behavioural biology and currently works at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology in Japan.
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Lauren India Lane is currently working at Reaseheath Colleges Zoo, as Deputy Head Keeper assisting in the management of over 200 species of animal for the primary purpose of a training undergraduates and professionals alike. Previously Lauren worked at The Bugworld Experience, a zoo for invertebrates working on projects like the Partula Program and a collection of venomous Invertebrates. Reaseheath has been awarded the Blue Cross Animals in Education Award for Invertebrate Welfare. Lauren is a Trustee for an exotic animal rescue and a steering committee member BIAZA Terrestrial Invertebrate Working Group. Lauren has a strong interest in improving welfare for captive lower vertebrate and invertebrates. This has included the development of certified first aid workshop for BIAZA.
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Steve Trim BSc is Founder and Managing Director of Venomtech. Steve founded Venomtech in March 2010 to address the need for new pain killers and antibiotics by preparing pharmaceutically useful venoms. In order to do this he has focused on the care and welfare of venomous invertebrates, published several papers on the topic and is leading several more studies. Steve is also the Hazardous invertebrate coordinator for the BIAZA Terrestrial Invertebrate working group.
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Rachel Turner is currently studying full-time at the University of Chester and is shortly to complete the second year of her degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare. She also works on a part-time basis as a zoo keeper in the exotics section at the Reaseheath Zoo. Rachel has developed practical experience with a wide range of taxa. However, she has chosen to specialise in Entomology and is the present Chairperson of the Herpetological and Entomological Society at Reaseheath College. Central to this particular interest is Rachel’s ambition to improve both the welfare and development of research initiatives for invertebrates. Her current area of interest is the further exploration of invertebrate personality.


Dr. Claudio Carere

The welfare of invertebrate animals: why and how should we care

When people think of welfare of animals, we don’t often think of invertebrates; in fact we seldom consider they are deserving of welfare assessment. Invertebrates constitute the majority (99%!) of animal species on the planet, but their welfare is disproportionately overlooked compared to the concern shown to vertebrates. There are few regulations concerning invertebrates - with the exception of cephalopods, since years in Canada and now in the European Union - which is usually justified by the assumption that invertebrates do not experience pain and/or stress, while lacking the capacity for higher order cognitive functions allowing sentience and consciousness. But a recent body of research - especially on insects, crustaceans, and mollusks - is increasingly suggesting that most invertebrates may be just as capable as vertebrates in experiencing pain and stress, and that some species display comparable cognitive abilities and individual personalities. Think of the smart, sentient octopuses that have personalities, play and solve problems. How do we ensure that they don’t get bored? Invertebrates are so diverse that proper welfare will mean different thing to each group, and the answers of how to care for them might be different. Contact with members of its own species might be good for one group and fatal for another. Whole phyla will differ in their need for moisture, provision for adequate food, appropriate shelter, opportunities to explore and play, and avoidance of pain or suffering. Developing attitude changes towards invertebrates may be beneficial for providing better welfare conditions for the animals. This talk will provide a compilation of examples across invertebrate taxa illustrating why and how their welfare should be accomplished and formally instituted.

Consider the individual: personality (and welfare) in invertebrates

Hundreds of species of all taxa, but mostly vertebrates, have been shown to possess individual personalities, defined as consistent between individual differences in behaviour. This previously neglected variation harbours many unsolved questions about its evolutionary maintenance and consequences, but also poses new challenges about applied welfare consequences, since the individual and not the species emerges as the primary target of welfare assessment and adjustment. After a brief overview, I will enlist relevant questions and challenges that need to be pursued focussing on the perspectives offered by invertebrates, which have been surprisingly overlooked by personality research. They are often viewed as animals of limited behavioural repertoires or ‘minirobots’ and therefore only recently investigations concerning their individual personality started with surprising results. Personality studies in invertebrates are needed because: (i) they exhibit a tremendous array of life histories, developmental trajectories, reproductive styles and communication and related socio-sexual behaviours, many of them rare or absent in vertebrates; (ii) asexual reproduction and the presence of genetically identical individuals allow easy study of G x E interactions by manipulating environmental parameters during ontogeny; (iii) metamorphosis offers a unique opportunity to study ontogeny, uncoupling, and plasticity of personality across different life stages; (iii) most invertebrates are ectothermic, providing a comparative perspective on the issue of energy metabolism in relation to personality; (iv) eusociality offers the unique opportunity to study individuality, predicted low in eusocial species, versus coordinated collective behaviours and specialisations; (v) parasitic lifestyles are widespread, yet almost unexplored in relation to personality. I will present an overview of the most striking findings on invertebrate personality and new data on personality in cephalopods (cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis), crustaceans (European lobster, Homarus gammarus), and social insects (Camponotus aethiops, Formica fusca) highlighting the consequences these studies could have for improving their welfare.

Frances Baines, M.A. Vet.M.B., M.R.C.V.S

Should we provide special lighting for invertebrates?

Of all the creatures on earth, the invertebrates surely have the most diverse and comprehensive range of sensory organs for the perception of light, from the simple pigment spot ocelli of a jellyfish to the extraordinarily complex eyes of a mantis shrimp or a dragonfly. Some species of butterflies, dragonflies, bees and wasps have visual ranges that are among the broadest ever described, covering the entire solar spectrum from UVB to the boundary of visible light and infrared. Many invertebrates can detect the polarisation of this light; some even have excellent colour vision in the near-total darkness of starlight. Given the importance of vision and non-visual perception to these animals, it is surprising that in the past, so little attention has been paid to the spectral quality and intensity of light, and the photoperiod, provided to invertebrates in captivity. The BIAZA Terrestrial Invertebrate Working Group has begun to focus on the question, "Do invertebrates need full spectrum lighting?" This presentation will briefly review the evidence for such a need; look at the results of some recent behavioural trials; and consider ways in which we can assess future "improvements" to our invertebrate lighting.

Dr. Michael Kuba

Who needs enrichment?

Big, small, hairy or feathery but at least cute and warm-blooded these are all too often the objects of our desire when we think about animal welfare, enrichment and animal training. Reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates are all too often left outside our considerations when think about animal welfare. This is highlighted at the moment by a very biased debate whether or not fish do feel pain. I will review the scientific facts and show why enrichment and welfare needs to consider all of these very diverse animals. Then I will bring up examples, how enrichment and welfare can and should be done for these groups.

Play, curiosity and intelligence?

Octopuses are amongst the most misunderstood animals we know – or better, know all too little about. While many reptiles, amphibian and fish are all too often seen as not the brightest puppies in the pack, octopuses and cephalopods as a whole often have this status as primates of the sea which we are all to likely to believe any urban legend about their smarts. In my talk I will present the scientific facts that gave and give octopuses their special place in our assessment of intelligent creatures. The truth about octopuses is often even more amazing then the misconceptions and false assumptions we have about them. Building on the existing data I will show why their inclusion into the EU animal protection laws was necessary and long over due.

Lauren India Lane

Invertebrate first aid workshop BIAZA Certified Training

The workshop is interactive first aid training covering 6 common ailments in invertebrates. The aims of the first aid workshop are as follows:
1. For delegates to explore 6 first aid options for invertebrates including: ectoparasite removal, hemolymph loss, disecdysis, autotomy, small wound repair and snail shell repair.
2. For delegates to demonstrate a range of first aid techniques with the aid of facilitators
3. For delegates to identify equipment and risks of applying first aid to invertebrates

Steve Trim

Invertebrate Pain and Stress, should it bother you?

Alleviation of pain and suffering are the cornerstones of animal welfare, but these terms hide some very complex biology which we are still trying to fully understand, even in mammals. So when it comes to invertebrates we have even less of an understanding of what pain and stress are. Stress is actually easier to understand, and therefore measure, than pain in invertebrates. This is because stress hormones such as cortisol are conserved throughout evolution, ranging from flies and molluscs to mammals and birds. These hormones can be measured in the lab and thus we can tell if a test situation is more stressful than a control situation from the levels of cortisol. We have no concept, at the moment, of what elevated stress hormones ‘feel like’ to an arthropod but we at least know the same hormones have dramatic effects in vertebrates for comparison. Pain is different; it involves both sensory and emotional experiences, which present many challenges to understanding. This presentation will provide a whistle stop tour of where we think we are in this understanding and some cutting edge research data working towards understanding what pain and stress is for invertebrates.

Do arachnids respond to environmental enrichment?

Environmental enrichment is a key consideration in captive animal care for a wide range of industries including, hobbyists, zoos and research. A lot of time and money is spent on providing enrichment for captive vertebrates and there are many publications on diverse taxa and their responses to such improvements. We are all probably familiar with, so-called, stereotypical behaviour in zoo mammals and birds but to our knowledge this has not been so evident with captive invertebrates. We are still trying to work out just what constitutes environmental enrichment versus basic needs for many animals and invertebrates are no exception. To answer these questions we need to understand what are natural behaviours and what are unique to the captive environment. Back in 2011 Venomtech published a key paper on environmental enrichment in arboreal Theraphosidae spiders. This presentation will deliver some of our recent research along with a review of current understanding on invertebrate environmental enrichment.

Rachel Turner

Research & enrichment initiatives for invertebrates: implications for welfare.

The benefits of enrichment with regards to mammals and birds are both well-known and accepted. Providing enrichment for invertebrates however is all too often considered to be unnecessary, even trivial. The comprehensive knowledge gained from studying enrichment in birds and mammals has proved invaluable in assessing welfare. Given the current interest in improving animal welfare, further questions need to be addressed, specifically aimed at invertebrates. For example, how many enrichment strategies can be applied to invertebrates? Equally importantly, how may such applications be effectively assessed? A key factor in any such assessment must surely be to clearly establish whether or not captivity has a detrimental effect upon invertebrate welfare, causing them, for example, to exhibit stereotypical behaviours. While stereotypy is not currently recognised for invertebrate species, very little research has been aimed to identify any possible behaviours. If invertebrates possess personality and are capable of stereotyping, it may be demonstrated that the provision of enrichment may reduce abnormal behaviour patterns and consequently improve well-being. The additional benefits of increased breeding success could help to boost endangered species recovery programmes, while increased activity levels may increase visitor interest in this understudied taxa. Such improvements in invertebrate welfare may also greatly assist in the study of invertebrate personality.


This seminar will be held in English.


Registration includes lectures, workshops and certificate of attendance.

Regular registration
Reaseheath student registration (fulltime students only)
Student registration (fulltime students only)


Reaseheath College
Nantwich, Cheshire East
United Kingdom
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Participants will receive a confirmation upon reception of the registration form. You are then officially registered. Cancellations received at least 3 month prior to the first day of the conference or workshop will be honoured and fees, if already paid, refunded, less a processing fee. Cancellations made after this date up to 2 months before the start will be refunded at 50% (even if invoice is not yet send and if payment is still outstanding). Cancellations made less then 1 month before the seminar are not refunded (even if invoice is not yet send and if payment is still outstanding). In fairness to all attendees, confirmed participants who do not attend their scheduled workshop or conference are liable for the entire fee unless other arrangements have been made with AnimalConcepts prior to the start of the event. AnimalConcepts is a registered company under Dutch law, and by accepting the cancellation policy at registration you agree and are bound to these laws, regardless of your geographically area. All payments have to be received prior to the start of the seminar, if this is not possible then only a cash payment on the day will allow access to the event.