Dr Lucy Asher
Newcastle University Research Fellow
- Email: email@example.com
- Telephone: +44 (0) 191 208 7540
- Address: Centre for Behaviour and Evolution
IoN, Newcastle University
Henry Wellcome Building
My research concerns using patterns in behaviour to earlier detect good and poor welfare states or events.
In the modern world computing technology is used for surveillance of human behaviour. By looking at the patterns of peoples' movements from CCTV footage, computing systems can detect those about to commit antisocial behaviour, violent acts or contemplating suicide. The main advantage of such techniques is that they can predict such unpleasant events before they happen. This means some of these events can be prevented.
I apply the study of patterns of behaviour to animals. I use statistical and computing techniques, but am very much grounded in ethology. Prediction of positive or negative welfare states and events using computing technology is likely to become increasingly important as the hundreds of billions of animals in human care increases further still. It is important that this area is led by an understanding of animal behaviour and welfare rather than the availability of technology. Yet computing and statistical techniques also have much to offer the study of behaviour. Patterns in behaviour can be used to automatically create ethograms, based on behaviour shown by animal and precise measurements of movement. Extremely subtle changes in behaviour can be detected which would not be apparent to the human observer. Behaviour over long time scales can be studied and normality or abnormality defined for each individual. These are the types of challenges which have interested me throughout my career.
I trained in Zoology and Psychology at Bristol and completed an MSc in Animal Behaviour at Edinburgh, before commencing a PhD on starling welfare with Professor Melissa Bateson. Through my PhD on starlings, I studied sequences in behaviour using a Markov chain approach. A post-doctoral position at the Royal Veterinary College followed, where I used novel methods to quantify patterns of group behaviour in hens. For the five years which followed I was based at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Science at the University of Nottingham, first as a Lecturer and then Assistant Professor. During my time at Nottingham I used statistical approaches to measure 'The Epidemiology of guide dog behaviour' in a large scale 5 year research project. I also worked on a range of other projects relevant to animal welfare in a variety of species; from poultry to elephants.
In 2015 I moved to Newcastle University to take up a position as Newcastle University Research Fellow. I continue to work on patterns in behaviour, primarily focusing on domestic poultry and dogs. A list of current projects can be found on my Research page.
I have two main streams of research at Newcastle University, as well as involvement in a number of other projects looking at patterns of animal behaviour.
DogBox- we are developing high-tech ways of recording and measuring dog behaviour and welfare. We use inertial sensors and video footage to record dog behaviour and movement and use statistical and computational methods to determine which movements and which behaviour is associated with good and poor welfare states. We are interested in how behaviour changes over time and how predictable or random behaviour becomes under stress.
ChickenWatch- we research automated measurements of chicken health and welfare using vision-based techniques and acoustic monitoring. Using the patterns of movement a chicken makes over time, the thermal readings of an individual or flock, or the calls an individual or flock make, we can tell a lot about how a chicken's welfare.
I contribute to the MRes courses in the Faculty of Medical Sciences and supervise postgraduate students.
- Craigon PJ, Hobson-West P, England GCW, Whelan C, Lethbridge E, Asher L. "She's a dog at the end of the day": Guide dog owners' perspectives on the behaviour of their guide dog. PLoS One 2017, 12(4), e0176018.
- Harvey ND, Craigon PJ, Blythe SA, England GCW, Asher L. An evidence-based decision assistance model for predicting training outcome in juvenile guide dogs. PLoS ONE 2017, 12(6), e0174261.
- Braem M, Asher L, Furrer S, Lechner I, Wurbe H, Melotti L. Development of the “Highly Sensitive Dog” questionnaire to evaluate the personality dimension “Sensory Processing Sensitivity” in dogs. PLoS One 2017, 12(5), e0177616.
- Ladha C, O'Sullivan J, Belshaw Z, Asher L. Gaitkeeper: A system for measuring canine gait. Sensors 2017, 17(2), 309.
- Asher L, Friel M, Griffin K, Collins LM. Mood and personality interact to determine cognitive biases in pigs. Biology Letters 2017, 12(11).
- Caron-Lormier G, Harvey ND, England GCW, Asher L. A new metric for quantifying the relative impact of risk factors on loss of working life illustrated in a population of working dogs. PLoS ONE 2016, 11(11), e0165414.
- Friel M, Kunc HP, Griffin K, Asher L, Collins LM. Acoustic signalling reflects personality in a social mammal. Royal Society Open Science 2016, 3(6), 160178.
- Harvey ND, Craigon PJ, Blythe SA, England GCW, Asher L. Social rearing environment influences dog behavioral development. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2016, 16, 13-21.
- Harvey ND, Craigon PJ, Sommerville R, McMillan C, Green M, England GCW, Asher L. Test-retest reliability and predictive validity of a juvenile guide dog behavior test. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2016, 11, 65-76.
- Belshaw Z, Asher L, Dean RS. The attitudes of owners and veterinary professionals in the United Kingdom to the risk of adverse events associated with using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat dogs with osteoarthritis. Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2016, 131, 121-126.
- Caron-Lormier G, Harvey ND, England GCW, Asher L. Using the incidence and impact of behavioural conditions in guide dogs to investigate patterns in undesirable behaviour in dogs. Scientific Reports 2016, 6, 23860.
- Caron-Lormier G, England GCW, Green MJ, Asher L. Using the incidence and impact of health conditions in guide dogs to investigate healthy ageing in working dogs. Veterinary Journal 2016, 207, 124-130.
- Liste G, Asher L, Broom DM. When a Duck Initiates Movement, Do Others Follow? Testing Preference in Groups. Ethology 2014, 120(12), 1199-1206.
- Buckland EL, Whiting MC, Abeyesinghe SM, Asher L, Corr S, Wathes CM. ) A survey of stakeholders' opinions on the priority issues affecting the welfare of companion dogs in Great Britain. Animal Welfare 2013, 22, 239-253. In Preparation.
- Asher L, Blythe S, Roberts R, Toothill L, Craigon PJ, Evans KM, Green MJ, England GCW. A standardized behaviour test for potential guide dog puppies: Methods and association with subsequent success in guide dog training. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2013, 8(6), 431-438.
- Jamieson J, Reiss MJ, Allen D, Asher L, Parker MO, Wathes CM, Abeyesinghe SM. Adolescents care but don’t feel responsible for farm animal welfare. Society and Animals 2013. In Preparation.
- Abeyesinghe SM, Drewe JA, Asher L, Wathes CM, Collins LM. Do hens have friends?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2013, 143, 61-66. In Preparation.
- Asher L, Collins LM, Pfeiffer DU, Nicol CJ. Flocking for food or flockmates?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2013, 147, 94-103.
- Asher L, Collins LM. Assessing synchrony in groups: Are you measuring what you think you are measuring?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2012, 138, 162-169. In Preparation.
- Morgan KV, Hurly TA, Bateson M, Asher L, Healy SD. Context-dependent decisions among options varying in a single dimension. Behavioural Processes 2012, 89(2), 115-120.
- Bettley CD, Cardwell JM, Collins LM, Asher L. Inherited defects in domestic horse breeds. Animal Welfare 2012, 21, 59-64. In Preparation.
- Jamieson J, Reiss MJ, Allen D, Asher L, Wathes CM, Abeyesinghe SM. Measuring the success of a farm animal welfare education event. Animal Welfare 2012, 21, 65-75. In Preparation.
- Grierson J, Asher L, Grainger K. An Investigation into Risk Factors for Bilateral Cruciate Rupture. Veterinary and comparative orthopaedics and traumatology: VCOT 2011, 24, 192-196. In Preparation.
- Asher L, Buckland EL, Phylactopoulos CI, Whiting MC, Abeyesinghe SM, Wathes CM. Estimation of the number and demographics of companion dogs in the UK. BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7, 74.
- Collins LM, Asher L, Summers JF, McGreevy PD. Getting priorities straight: risk assessment and decision-making in the improvement of inherited disorders in pedigree dogs. The Veterinary Journal 2011, 189, 147-154.
- Collins LM, Asher L, Pfeiffer DU, Nicol CJ. Clustering and synchrony in laying hens: the effect of environmental resources on social dynamics. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2010, 129, 43-53. In Preparation.
- Summers JF, Diesel G, Asher L, McGreevy PD, Collins LM. Inherited defects in pedigree dogs II: Non- Conformational disorders. The Veterinary Journal 2010, 183, 39-45.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Bateson M. Stereotyping starlings are more 'pessimistic'. Animal Cognition 2010, 13(5), 721-731.
- Bateson M, Asher L. The European starling. In: Hubrecht, R & Kirkwood, J, ed. The UFAW Handbook on The Care and Management of Laboratory and Other Research Animals. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, pp.697-705.
- Collins LM, Asher L, Diesel G, Summers JF, McGreevy PD. Welfare epidemiology as a tool to assess the welfare impact of inherited defects on the pedigree dog population. Animal Welfare 2010, 19, 67-75. In Preparation.
- Asher L, Kirkden R, Bateson M. An empirical investigation of two assumptions of motivation testing: does cost reduce demand and do animals have an energy budget to spend?. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2009, 118, 152-160. In Preparation.
- Asher L, Diesel G, Summers JF, McGreevy PD, Collins LM. Inherited defects in pedigree dogs Part 1: Disorders related to breed standards. The Veterinary Journal 2009, 182, 402-411. In Preparation.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Feenders G, Bateson M. Quantification of abnormal repetitive behaviour in captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Behavioural Processes 2009, 82(3), 256-264.
- Asher L, Collins LM, Ortiz-Pelaez A, Drewe JA, Pfeiffer DU, Nicol CJ. Recent advances in the analysis of behavioural organisation and interpretation as indicators of animal welfare. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface 2009, 6, 1103-1119.
- Asher L, Davies TTO, Bertenshaw C, Cox MAA, Bateson M. The effects of cage volume and cage shape on the condition and behaviour of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2009, 116(2-4), 286-294.
- Brilot BO, Asher L, Bateson M. Water bathing alters the speed-accuracy trade-off of escape flights in European starlings. Animal Behaviour 2009, 78(4), 801-807.
- Matheson SM, Asher L, Bateson M. Larger, enriched cages are associated with 'optimistic' response biases in captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2008, 109(2-4), 374-383.
- Asher L, Bateson M. Use and husbandry of captive European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in scientific research: A review of current practice. Laboratory Animals 2008, 42(2), 111-126.