Finding biomarkers of experience in animals

Sarah Babington, Alan J. Tilbrook, Shane K. Maloney, Jill N. Fernandes, Tamsyn M. Crowley, Luoyang Ding, Archa H. Fox, Song Zhang, Elise A. Kho, Daniel Cozzolino, Timothy J. Mahony, Dominique Blache

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


At a time when there is a growing public interest in animal welfare, it is critical to have objective means to assess the way that an animal experiences a situation. Objectivity is critical to ensure appropriate animal welfare outcomes. Existing behavioural, physiological, and neurobiological indicators that are used to assess animal welfare can verify the absence of extremely negative outcomes. But welfare is more than an absence of negative outcomes and an appropriate indicator should reflect the full spectrum of experience of an animal, from negative to positive. In this review, we draw from the knowledge of human biomedical science to propose a list of candidate biological markers (biomarkers) that should reflect the experiential state of non-human animals. The proposed biomarkers can be classified on their main function as endocrine, oxidative stress, non-coding molecular, and thermobiological markers. We also discuss practical challenges that must be addressed before any of these biomarkers can become useful to assess the experience of an animal in real-life.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Biotechnology
Issue number1
Early online date20 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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