Based at the School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford, Species and Spaces seeks to understand how the introduction of new species and clinical sites into animal research challenges 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 of the use zebrafish in research in the last two decades. ‘Spaces’, examines research at Places Other Than Licensed Establishments (POLES), with a special focus on veterinary clinics and the veterinary practice/research interface.

Three broad questions guide our work: What has motivated and constrained the search for new species and sites for animal research from the passing of Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act to the present? How does the introduction and spread of new species transform practices of ethical review, the 3Rs, animal care, public engagement and understandings of animal sentience? How are clinical-research interfaces and ethical practices being transformed through research involving companion species in veterinary practices?

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

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

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.

Written by:

Reuben Message

"How different does a fish really feel from one day to the next?" Zebrafish larvae become protected animals at the age of 5 days post fertilisation. At 4 days, they are not. Why is this?

“Vintage File Cabinet” by victoriabernal is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via Flickr
Written by:

Sara Peres

Our approach to research emphasises cross-project collaborations and transdisciplinary thinking. But what does this mean, in practical terms, for the work that we do and for our participants?

Written by:

Rich Gorman

In July 2018 several members of the Animal Research Nexus team were invited to an exciting workshop at the University of Nottingham.


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.


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.


We are delighted to announce that Ally Palmer joined the Animal Research Nexus team based at Oxford University from July 2018. Ally will be working on the practices of ethics and oversight when research is carried out in POLES - or places other than licenced establishments.