Based at the School of Geography and the Environment, at the University of Oxford, Species and Spaces seeks to understand the challenges that different and unusual species and sites introduce into animal research, and what these challenges might mean for established infrastructures, practices, and cultures of animal care.

Our research is concentrating into two streams. ‘Species’ focuses mainly on fish, and especially the ongoing explosion in the use zebrafish in research over the last two decades, as well as the so-called ‘higher invertebrates’, cephalopods and crustaceans. ‘Spaces’ examines research at Places Other Than Licensed Establishments (POLES), such as wildlife field projects, fisheries, farms, zoos, and veterinary clinics.

A number of broad questions guide our work: How do human-animal relationships influence the implementation of animal welfare regulations? How does the introduction and spread of different species and sites transform practices of ethical review, the 3Rs, animal care, and public engagement? How are the borders between regulated and unregulated research shaped by ideas about animal sentience and suffering, the ethics applied to different categories of animals (e.g., pets, wildlife, and farm animals), and definitions of science, veterinary treatment, and animal management?

We are approaching these questions using a combination of methods including documentary analyses, in-depth interviews with stakeholders (e.g. researchers, regulators, animal technicians, Named Persons, suppliers, regulators, and welfare charities), and participant observation in different settings in industry and university sectors.

A list of site content that is tagged as Species & Spaces – grouped by type of content.

Events

What kinds of ethical and practical challenges do wildlife researchers face? How do these challenges compare with those faced by researchers working with laboratory animals? And how is wildlife research currently (and ideally) regulated in the UK? This plenary given by Dr Julie Lane is organised by the Oxford Species & Spaces Animal Research Nexus team, held at Keble College, Oxford, 5-6pm on the 30th of September, 2019. It may be of particular interest to conservation and wildlife researchers.

The Oxford Species & Spaces team is holding a panel discussion on the regulation of citizen science, as part of our work on animal research at POLEs. This event is part of the ERSC Festival of Social Science and hosted by the Oxford Museum of Natural History, 7:30-9pm, 6th November 2019. Sign up for the event here.

Our ‘Psychic Fish’ intervention had another successful outing last Friday night at the Oxford Museum of Natural History.

Do fish feel pain? Are they sentient? What makes a fish happy? Come and find out how you really feel about with the Nexus psychic fish!

Do fish feel pain? Are they sentient? What makes a fish happy? Come and find out how you really feel about with the Nexus psychic fish!

On the 29th of November 2018, Animal Research Nexus team members helped to organise an event on the standardisation of welfare terminology.

Blog entry

Written by:

Ally Palmer

Can animals volunteer to participate in research? If so, what does volunteering look like, and what does it mean for animal welfare?

Written by:

Beth Greenhough, Reuben Message, Ally Palmer, Bentley Crudgington

In the Species and Spaces project, we’re exploring people’s perceptions around fish use, sentience, and how these shape and define assumptions around their welfare requirements.

Publications

This paper draws on ethnographic work with laboratory animal technologists to offer insights into the skills required to study human–animal relations and the role played by storytelling in negotiating the contested moral economies of animal research.

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