What kind of impact are we having through our research? In fact, our work is making a difference in all kinds of ways.
Impact of systemic pesticides on bee behaviour
This project aims to provide a scientifically sound basis for the environmental risk assessment of neonicotinoid insecticides to bees by rigorously quantifying levels of exposure and hazard. The research is a collaborative project with the Biosciences. The value of commercial crops that benefit from bee pollination in the UK is estimated at £100 million to £200 million a year – while the honey industry is worth some £10 million to £30 million. The minimum impact of research linking pesticides to bee behaviour will be on the partners’ supplier procurement policies. But may well have much wider knock-on effects.
Cognitive enrichment and welfare for captive animals
CRAB has worked with a number of partners in order to develop enriched environments for captive animals. The work is based on tasks originally developed as part of animal cognitive testing. Some of our MSc and PhD students undertake research focusing on animal welfare. Some of this research is carried out in captive settings, primarily at Paignton Zoo, with whom we have longstanding collaborative arrangements. We are investigating behavioural indicators of stress in captive animals, both in zoos and in the laboratory, in an attempt to improve the welfare of captive animals. Partners include the Whitley Wildlife Trust’s zoos, The Donkey Sanctuary, DEFRA, Dairy Co and the RSPCA.
Management of pheasant rearing
Game shooting in the UK brings large economic benefits, especially to regions that are otherwise relatively poor and is worth about £1.6 billion/year with pheasants 79% of game birds shot. Reared pheasants survive poorly, with around 40% dying from causes other than shooting in their first year. Up to 35 million have to be released each year to support the current shooting industry. The scale of release of reared pheasants can have detrimental effects on lowland habitats and ecosystems. A trial has been successful and preliminary results have prompted a collaboration with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) examining applied issues of productivity, welfare and environmental improvement.
Impacts on conservation and biodiversity
Through our research on animal populations of conservation concern, CRAB regularly makes recommendations to national and international research and conservation organisations including GWCT, Songbird Survival, Paignton Zoo, Natural England (all UK) Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (Australia), Mankwe Game Reserve and African Elephant Research Unit (South Africa), Phana Macaque Project (Thailand), and the Center for Whale Research and the National Wildlife Research Center (USA). In collaboration with South West Water, CRAB is exploring how environmental management practices alter cattle movement patterns and foraging behaviour, with the aim of improving the management of sites of special scientific interest.