International canine and feline science forums

The effects of cat predation on other species and the view that dog owners have better general health when compared with non-owners are just two topics to be discussed at an international conference at the University of Lincoln.

Following on from a vision seven years ago to bring together researchers within a range of disciplines interested in better understanding the behaviour of canids, the Canine Science Forum has become the leading conference in its field; now the Feline Science Forum aims to do the same for those working on the Felidae.

Lincoln PhD student and co-organiser of the conference, Prarom Sriphavatsarakom, said: “It is a great opportunity for Lincoln to host the 2014 Canine Science Forum, the leading international dog-science focused meeting. As we have seen from the past three meetings, Forum has been successful in bringing together canine scientists from different study fields to meet, share the latest knowledge and establish networks for collaboration.

“We are introducing the parallel meeting devoted entirely to cats, the Feline Science Forum, partly because we have so much feline research going on at Lincoln. We hope this will be a unique research-focused event that will gather feline scientists from around the world. These events will consolidate Lincoln’s position on the map as one of the world leading research centres for companion animal science and will help showcase our existing expertise in canine and feline science.”

Dr John Bradshaw from the University of Bristol will kick off the Feline programme on July 14th with a thought-provoking consideration of comparative sociality in cats. Dr Rebecca Thomas from the University of Reading will then review the latest evidence of the impact of domestic cat predation on wildlife.

Leading evolutionary biologist Dr Marcello Ruta, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Life Sciences, will begin the afternoon session with a review of the latest thoughts on the evolution of the Felidae. The final session will focus largely on new ways of assessing and measuring cat behaviour, including a demonstration of the Cat Facial Action Coding System by the team from the University of Portsmouth. In the evening, leading anthrozoologist, Professor James Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania will deliver a free public lecture on ‘The making of companion animals’.

The Canine Science Forum starts with Distinguished Professor Ben Hart of UC Davis, examining what wolf behaviour can and cannot tell us about dogs. Professor Clive Wynne of the University of Arizona will deliver a further invited talk on the cognitive differences between dogs and wolves. Dr Mariana Bentosela, who has developed innovative techniques for assessing the emotional responses of dogs, will lead the second day of talks, with Professor Claudio Sillero of the University of Oxford, giving a further plenary on cooperation on the wonderfully adaptable canidae.

Thursday will begin with a practical demonstration of working dogs in Library Square at 9.30am on Thursday, 17th July. Leading canine geneticist Dr Erik Axelsson of Uppsala University and palaeontologist Dr John Finarelli of University College Dublin will complete the line-up of invited speakers.

Both the Canine Science Forum and the Feline Science forum will be held at Lincoln Performing Arts Centre (LPAC) within the University of Lincoln’s Brayford campus.

Details on the invited speakers can be found at: http://www.csf2014.com/invited-speakers.php, with the full programme available at: http://www.csf2014.com/scientific-programme.php

For more information e-mail csf2014@lincoln.ac.uk or visit http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/news/2013/11/809.asp