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Student Research Projects

Students are encouraged to undertake innovative and challenging research projects as part of their degree. Examples of research titles include:

  • BSc (Hons) Animal Management

    Scope and scale of exotic mammal internet sales in the United Kingdom

    An evaluation of the differences between wild and companion rabbit bacterial ecology, nutritional composition and diet composition

    Activity patterns of Southern Tamanduas (Tamandua tetradactyla) at ZSL London Zoo; focusing on activity budgets, event data, and space use during high, medium, and low visitor numbers

    A study into the comparison between owners perceived serving sizes and dog (Canis lupus familiaris) obesity

    An investigation into the effectiveness of zoos in educating the public on conservational needs of ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta)

    Full food analysis of Asian short-claw otter diets from different collections within the Southern UK and the appearance of kidney stones

    Comparison of behavioural patterns of captive wildfowl and their wild conspecifics

    The role of biotin in lamb survival, birth weight and subsequent milk yield in the ewe

    A study comparing breed specific stress levels in dogs, using the comparison in stress levels within kennels and a home environment

    A study of the current diets and behaviour of captive blue and gold macaws (Ara ararauna) in UK zoo collections

    Bacteriology Investigation in domestic cats (Felis catus)

    A multi-institutional comparison of captive black lemur diets (Eulemur macaco)

    A study on whether cat (Felis catus) fur colour has any link to behaviour/personality

    The Effects of Different Diets on the Health of Canis lupus familiaris

    A study to investigate the behaviours of captive okapis (Okapia johnstoni), focusing on the effect of public noise levels


    Captive and wild dietary comparisons in black and white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata)

    A study comparing captive diets to research on wild diets in order to assess suitability, presented as a poster at the Marwell Nutrition Seminar

    Factors affecting loggerhead sea turtle hatch rates in North Carolina

    An investigation into hatch rates and juvenile mortality at key turtle nesting sites in North Carolina, USA

    Communication strategies in highland streaked tenrecs

    An investigation into ultrasound communication in a group of captive streaked tenrecs at Sparsholt College’s Animal Management Centre

    In-situ mitigation strategies for an amphibian chytridiomycosis using the Montserrat mountain chicken frogs as model species

    Working alongside the Zoological Society of London to better understand the factors affecting the spread of chytrid fungus

  • FdSc Animal Management and Applied Science

    The effect of enrichment on sentry behaviour in captive meerkats

    Impact of olfactory enrichment on captive rodents

  • BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Behaviour (Top-up)


    Comparison of captive red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) behaviour and enclosure usage by collections held at Berkshire College of Agriculture and the British Wildlife Centre

    An investigation into the aetiology of separation-related behavioural problems in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris) focusing on everyday husbandry practices

    Do the public perceive dogs to be safe?

    The impact of horse falls at cross country eventing fences on subsequent performance

    Incidence of separation related disorders in home-reared versus rescue dogs (Canis familiaris)

    Human-animal relationship by investigating preconceived dog-breed bias

    Canis familiaris – Stress signals and behaviour in the veterinary clinic waiting room: A study comparing owner and researcher perceptions using behavioural observations and questionnaires.

    Dog-owner relationships and choice of training method.

    Owners’ perception of health in cats which are fed raw or processed food.

    Should dog behaviour be taught on the school curriculum?

    Effects of rehoming on behaviour in rescue dogs following adoption 

  • BSc (Hons) Zoo Biology (Top-up)

    Impact of substrate colour and cover density on shoaling behaviour in Punthius

    Enclosure complexity in Varanus prasinus

    Conservation messaging through social media

    Wallaby nutrition

    Nocturnal behaviour and perch preference in Corallus hortulanus

    Behaviour and cortisol in Lycaon pre and post birth

    Nest box preferences in Graphiurus murinus

    Flamingo social networks

    Public attitudes to live feeding

    Capybara diets

    Skunk behaviour

    Thermal complexity in Pantherophis guttatus

    Visitor impact in walk through aviary

    Hornbill enrichment

  • MSc Applied Zoo Biology

    Would the addition of choice increase the level of participation within a chimpanzee husbandry training session?  Using choice of food reinforcement within a training setting

    Investigating the relationship between feeding methods and aggression in captive lesser flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)

    ‘Edutainment’: confusing or enhancing visitor interpretation of exhibits and the species they house?

    Using Infrared Thermography, is it possible to establish a reliable baseline of eye temperatures that consistently correlate to rectal body temperature in Southern White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum)

    A UK, BIAZA collection survey of husbandry regimes of captive pinnipeds to determine the possible cause of poor eye health

    Public perception of abnormal behaviour prevalence and welfare of zoo housed gorillas (Gorilla gorilla)

    Avifauna attractiveness and popularity in zoos: A pilot study

    A comparative study of enclosure use for captive reptiles under the treatment of varying infrared wavelengths and their effects

    Would riders accept pre-competition weight assessments in UK competitions?

     Animal activity levels and visitor response across different taxa (Pilot Study)

  • Past BSc (Hons) Animal Management Research Abstracts

    Impact of visitor numbers on the behaviour and cortisol levels of white rhino at Longleat safari park – Victoria Barsham, Mandy Tamba and Kerry Hunt

    This study looked at how an increase in visitor numbers impacted the stress levels and behaviour of a herd of four rhino. Research was collected during August and September to compare peak visitor numbers to the lower term time values. Whilst changes in behaviour and also cortisol level were observed this was not due to visitor numbers. This showed that the amount of visitors present did not seem to impact on the welfare of these rhino; however, more research into the factors effecting the stress level on these animals in captivity is required.

    A review of the impact of nocturnal enrichment for Asian elephants at Woburn safari park – Stephanie Bignell, Paul Rose & Kerry Hunt

    Enrichment is commonly provided in zoological collections for the majority of species housed and lots of research has been conducted into how effective these are during normal opening hours. There is, however, limited research on the effectiveness of enrichment left in the animals enclosure overnight even though this makes up the majority of their day – from 5pm to 8am in most cases. This research showed that the elephants were utilising enrichment devices throughout the night, even when the objects no longer contained food items. On average, the elephants spent 20% of their time interacting with the boomer ball provided even when it had been emptied. Further research on non-food based enrichment preference would be of benefit here.

    Comparison of salivary cortisol levels of police, gun and assistance dogs – Tara Humphries, Emma Skirrow, Lorna Cameron and Kerry Hunt

    Salivary cortisol was collected from 10 police, 10 gun and 10 assistance dogs after they had completed a training task that would be considered part of their normal routine. Salivary cortisol results showed that assistance dogs had significantly higher cortisol levels than the other working dog categories. The data also showed that sex and age had an impact on cortisol levels with females and older dogs recording higher cortisol levels in this study.

    The relationship between body condition score and lameness in dairy cattleGemma Isaac, Roger Coffin, Lorna Cameron and Kerry Hunt

    A herd of 49 dairy cattle were observed over summer 2013 with data collected on their gait and body condition score (BCS). There was a relationship between BCS and lameness as animals with a lower body condition score were more likely to be lame; however, it is unclear if lowered BCS increased lameness or lame animals BCS decreased. Age, breed and lactation stage all impacted on the relationship between BCs and lameness.

    Investigating nutrient provision and digestibility of red-crested turaco diets across several UK collectionsAlex Hulbert, Kerry Hunt and Paul Rose

    Red crested turacos diets from five different UK collections and compared them to the current husbandry guidelines. Digestibility of the diets was also analysed using directly collected samples. No significant differences were observed in fibre or protein provision between collections; however, there was a significant difference in copper values which is important as copper is used to maintain plumage colouration. Overall, longer term studies are recommended; however, from the data collected collections should be increasing fibre provision to turacos as this is currently lower than the recommended amounts.

Dissertation Topics

  • BSc (Hons) Animal Management dissertation topics

    • Nutritional analysis of sun bear diets across the UK zoological establishments
    • An investigation to see if the effect of keeper presence on social hierarchy and behaviours in captive wolves
    • UVB permeability through captive snake skins
    • Determining the impact of treat provision on body condition scoring and health issues in the domestic dog
    • Public perceptions of the modern zoo: Evaluating opinions on the awareness of zoo’s and their roles
    • Visitor and keeper impacts on behavioural diversity and enclosure utilisation in captive wolf packs
    • Changes in distribution and density of cetaceans in the North sea
    • Changes in distribution and density of cetaceans in the English channel or Irish sea
    • Influence of nutritional content of food sources on the territory sizes of Cayman Island blue iguanas
    • Review of the threats facing British hedgehogs
    • Positive vs. negative reinforcement; review of the efficiency of different training method for training donkeys
    • Effect of enrichment provision on the behaviour and enclosure utilisation of pygmy goats
    • Impact of different grooming methods on cortisol and behaviour
    • Impact of visitor noise levels on the behaviour and enclosure use in ring tailed lemurs
    • Effects of observer distance on wild Javan slow Loris behaviour
    • Comparison of diets and digestibility of black and white lemurs in UK collections
    • Development of faecal egg count training and management: review of systems of sustainable equid parasite control
    • Investigation into activity and stress levels of cats housed in boarding establishments
    • Food source selection and behaviour in Western honey bees; Natural vs. synthetic
    • Impact of hiding space on activity levels and enclosure use of wolves
    • Investigation into enclosure use and behavioural patterns of Chinese water dragons
    • Nutritional analysis of captive diets fed to blue and gold macaws
    • Impact of staff and visitor numbers on the behaviour and enclosure utilisation of penguin species
    • Partner preference in horses
    • Inter and intra specific interactions of specific shark species in mixed species aquarium
    • Behavioural impact and utilisation of indoor vs. outdoor space in captive meerkats
    • Clinical vs naturalistic: effect of tank set up on the behaviour of big bellied seahorses
    • Impact of early socialisation in puppies on the rate of behavioural problems identified by owners later
    • Partner preference in captive giraffes
  • BSc (Hons) Applied Animal Behaviour dissertation topics

    • Hide and Seek: Does hiding opportunity in an outdoor enclosure alter the behavioural repertoire of captive guinea pigs?
    • Do cats housed in pairs in a cattery show more abnormal behaviours than cats housed individually?
    • Olfactory Social Enrichment in Emperor Tamarins
    • Attitudes towards animal sentience and welfare: Is there a difference between demographics and attitudes?
    • A study of lateralisation during urination in gundog breeds (Canis familiaris): Does lateralisation indicate personality?
    • Effects of Rehoming on the Incidence of Anxiety in Rescue Dogs (Canis familiaris) following Adoption
    • Interspecies Relationships, a Study on Spatial Use and Social Behaviour in a Mixed Species Enclosure
    • To graze or not to graze: Foraging preferences in the Brazilian tapir (Tapirus terrestris) between graze and browse rich environments
    • Do high levels of visitors around a water hole affect the behaviour of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa?
    • Dog obesity: Do dog owners correctly body-condition-score their dog and is this related to owner classified dog attractiveness?
    • Effects of olfactory enrichment on activity levels in the grey wolf (Canis lupus)