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Borbala Foris

Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien


Social relationships in farmed animals and its impact on welfare

Social environments in agricultural settings often differ from what animals evolved to live in. Many farm animal species are kept in artificially created groups and have limited agency in avoiding others or maintaining meaningful social bonds over longer time. Despite these considerable differences from wild counterparts, farm animals live in complex social environments and management practices that prioritize the social needs of animals are needed to ensure a high level of welfare. Technological advances in automated behavioral monitoring open new frontiers in the analysis of social interactions in farm animals and allow us to better understand how the life of individuals is modulated by their social environment. This talk will highlight key examples of adverse welfare effects of suboptimal social settings through competition and agonistic interactions and outline current research on the potential benefits of facilitating the formation and maintenance of socio-positive bonds. The promises and pitfalls of technology use in routinely monitoring and managing the social environment will also be discussed.

Liran Samuni

German Primate Center, Leibniz Insttitute for Primate Research

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Evaluating the Evolutionary Roots of Cooperation and Conflict through the lens of Pan

More than any other species, humans exhibit an extraordinary capacity for cooperation that transcends social boundaries and is often considered the secret to our success. However, the same capacity for cooperation can also fuel intergroup conflict and violence, resulting in discriminatory and prejudicial behavior. Studying the evolutionary roots of the interplay between cooperation and competition through the lens of Pan is key to the reconstruction of ancestral hominin conditions that continue to influence the social dynamics of present-day human societies.

In this talk I will discuss the mechanisms underlying violence and cooperation among our closest living relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. These two species share similar life-histories and social environments but exhibit significant differences in patterns of dominance, social relationships, and out-group attitudes. By leveraging and evaluating the similarities and differences between them, I will present some work on how in-group/out-group identity is manifested in the two species and its potential link to hostile or peaceful out-group attitudes. I will evaluate the contexts underlying out-group competition or cooperation in the two species and the role of differentiated social relationships in shaping their societies.