mardi 15 novembre 2016

Mathematical modelling of sleep behaviour as an indicator of avian welfare

Supervisory team: Main supervisor: Prof Christine Nicol (University of Bristol) Second supervisor: Dr Lorna Wilson (University of Bath ) Prof Toby Knowles (University of Bristol) Host institution: University of Bristol Project description: The importance of a good night’s sleep is universally acknowledged to underpin good health and to promote effective mental functioning in human beings. Sleep follows a strong circadian rhythm and is controlled by internal clock - like systems and external cues. However, d efining what is meant by ‘good’ sleep is not straightforward. Simple measures such as the overall duration or number of episodes of sleep received in a 24h period do not capture the potential importance of the time of day at which sleep occurs, sequential patterning effects or the effects of interruptions at different points in the sleep cycle. Some of these effects have been captured in mathematical models applied to humans and to other mammals, but there has been no work to describe sleep quality in birds . Like mammals, birds can sleep with both brain hemispheres simultaneously but unlike mammals, birds can also sleep with just half of their brain at a time, allowing the other half of the brain to remain active and alert. The first aim of this project will be to use mathematical models to describe sleep patterns in birds. The project will study chickens because this work also has commercial relevance. Over 65 billion chickens are reared worldwide each year and the welfare of these birds concerns many people . The second aim of the project will assess the extent to which common management procedures, such as lighting patterns or different methods of brooding, affect sleep quality in chickens, using the definitions of sleep quality derived from the initial rese arch. In humans, poor physical or mental health can not only arise from poor sleep quality, but can themselves contribute to poor sleep quality, so this project will also examine the effects of physical health on sleep quality in adult laying hens. The th ird aim will be to examine how sleep quality relates to a wide range of non - invasive indicators of chicken welfare. The project has potential industrial relevance. Both supervisors and both institutional departments have a range of industrial links and con tacts. The student will be encouraged to make use of these links, to visit commercial farms and to consider the ways in which the fundamental information derived in this project can be used to improve animal welfare and the sustainability of the poultry in dustry