• Physiological and behavioural measures of stress in domestic horses

      Young, Tamsin (University of Liverpool (Chester College of Higher Education), 2011-09)
      The welfare of domestic horses has been scrutinised by the scientific community in recent years. Traditional riding and stable management practices have been recognised to be at odds with the physical and behavioural adaptations of the horse. There is, therefore, a growing need to understand how modern horse management can impact on horse welfare. The first study in this thesis assessed the impact of common management practices on physiological stress in the horse. Faecal cortisol was higher in horses that were stabled and exercised, than turned out to grass with no exercise. The effect of exercise alone was also seen to increase levels of salivary cortisol. No change was seen in cortisol following short-term routine husbandry procedures such as exposure to the sound of electric coat clippers, but it was suggested that this required further investigation. The study confirmed exercise increased stress as reflected by cortisol concentration, and indicated that individual stabling may also contribute to elevated stress. The study recommended that horses may benefit from periods of rest and turn out to grass, to reduce stress levels and improve welfare. The measurement of stress for the purpose of welfare assessment is, however, best carried out using an integration of both physiological and behavioural measures. Behaviour scores offer non-invasive, quick and easy methods of assessing stress in domestic animals, but have typically been developed using only behavioural assessment of the stress response. In the second study a scale of behavioural indicators of stress was developed using behavioural and physiological measures for the purpose of assessing stress in stabled domestic horses. Principal component analysis of behavioural reactions and changes in salivary cortisol concentration in response to routine husbandry procedures, revealed three meaningful components that were used as the basis to the stress scale. Behavioural reactions to the husbandry procedures were further analysed by a panel of equestrian professionals using free choice profiling, and results were added to the appropriate components. The final scale comprised of four levels of stress (no stress, low, iii medium and high stress), and each category was further sub-divided into behaviour scores (BS). The scores represented accumulating levels of behavioural indicators of stress within each stress level, and provided indices of physiological stress. The scale offers an easy to use method of welfare assessment in horses, and reduces the need for additional physiological measures to be taken. The scale represented a novel approach to measuring stress, and was used in the final study to measure stress in horses stabled individually, group housed, and in horses moved from stabling to group housing. The effectiveness of the scale at measuring stress, was compared to the effectiveness of measures of heart rate variability (HRV) and faecal cortisol at measuring stress in the same horses. Lower levels of stress were recorded in group housed horses as measured by the BS, but measures of HRV and faecal cortisol showed no difference between those stabled or group housed. Stress levels were unaffected by the move to group housing, but BS declined significantly over the three weeks that the horses remained group housed. The physiological measures did not, however, reflect such a decrease in stress. Stress levels were also compared between horses housed in both environments whilst waiting to be fed. Group housed horses had lower stress levels as measured by the BS. Results provided by the BS were supported by relevant literature, and the scale appeared to be more sensitive than the physiological measures which did not yield significant results with the small sample sizes used in the study. The research confirmed short-term management practices horses are typically exposed to daily, can elevate their stress levels. Further research into which practices put horse welfare at a particular risk, and thus require modification or need to be avoided where possible, is necessary. The findings also suggest horse-owners may need to pay more attention to their horse’s stress levels, to avoid repeated or on-going stress that can jeopardise health and welfare. The scale of behavioural indicators of stress would provide a suitable method by which stress could be monitored and thus become a part of horse management.
    • Production of DNA aptamers with specificity for bacterial food pathogens

      Bonwick, Graham A.; Drasbek, Mette R.; Young, Niall; Smith, Christopher; McDowall, Ian; Kärkkäinen, Riikka M. (University of Chester, 2012-09)
      Aptamers are biomolecular ligands composed of nucleic acids. They can be selected to bind specifically to a range of target molecules and subsequently exploited in a fashion analogous to more traditional biomolecules such as antibodies. In this study a method for selecting new aptamers which specifically bind whole live bacterial cells is described. A non-pathogenic strain of Escherichia coli K12 was used to develop the method. A DNA library containing 100 bases long random nucleotide sequences was produced and the aptamer selection process was repeated nine times. An enzyme-linked technique was first used to detect bound aptamers thereafter fluorimetry and fluorescence microscopy methods were used for the detection. The aptamers were cloned and sequenced and the cloned aptamers produced with fluorescent labels. The E. coli K12-binding aptamers were used to demonstrate the detection of the bacterial cells in a complex food matrix, namely probiotic yogurt, by using fluorescence based detection method. The aptamer selection method with some modifications was also used to select aptamers with specificity for the food pathogens E. coli O157, Listeria monocytogenes, L. innocua, S. typhimurium and S. enteritidis. The aptamers against E. coli O157 and S. typhimurium were cloned and the sequences and the binding properties of these aptamers were analysed. The use of E. coli K12 as a target organism and the aptamer sequences presented in this study, have not previously been published in scientific literature. This is also the first report where the aptamers have been used in detection of live bacterial cells in yogurt.
    • The Role of Anaerobic Digestion in Achieving Soil Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture for Sustainable Development in the UK

      Burek, Cynthia V.; Bonwick, Graham A.; Alexander, Roy; Duruiheoma, Franklin I. (University of Chester, 2015-12)
      The subjection of soils to degradation directly and indirectly from rising world food demand and resultant intensified agricultural production, population growth, and climate change, demand that soils are better protected. The role of AD in addressing this challenge is examined using a pragmatic research paradigm and the questions: How can we raise awareness of AD in the UK? What factors motivate and hinder farmers towards adopting improved technology and sustainable agricultural practises? What is the perception of farmers about soils? To what extent does sustainable agriculture incorporate soil conservation in theory and practice? What role can legislation and policies play in AD adoption in the UK? The research was in two phases; qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative phase involved interviews with 21 AD stakeholder in the UK using electronic mail. The stakeholders who were divided into groups according to their expertise, were interviewed to explore their views on the areas of focus in the UK strategy and action plan regarding raising awareness of the technology, soil conservation, sustainable agriculture and sustainable development. Thematic analysis of interview data was carried out using MAXQDA 11 statistical software. The quantitative phase involved an online survey of 283 UK farmers aided by Yellow Pages directory for UK, Natural England directory, Twitter and electronic mail. Using SPSS 22.0 statistical software, the Chi square test was used to check for relationships between the variables measured at 95% confidence level (p<.05). Relationship strength was measured by means of Cramer’s V and Phi values. Answers to the 1st research question showed that: aligning AD with sustainable development goals, community AD and localism, small AD plants, provision of an available market for AD products, building UK skills and diversifying biogas use from AD are positive options for raising awareness of AD. Response to 2nd research question revealed: significant relationships between interests in agricultural technology and gender, level of education, and farm size; between knowledge of what AD is and gender, level of education and farm size; between interest in AD and age; between willingness to invest in AD if it improved soil properties and farm ownership; and between organic farming practice and age, farm type and farm size. Responding to the third research question, farmers’ describe soils in abstract, scientific, physical attribute and functional terms; awareness of soil benefits other than crop production was significantly related to age, and farm ownership; educational level was significantly related to familiarity with soil conservation, and opinion on whether soil should be protected like other natural resources. Findings regarding the 4th and 5th research questions showed: limited understanding of soil matters as a key challenge that has restricted the priority given to soil conservation, while level of education, knowledge of soil conservation and sustainable development and understanding of sustainable agriculture were also identified as influencing factors; digestate from AD is the main benefit viewed to contribute to soil conservation; finance, policy and legislation, low awareness and understanding, lack of feedstock and market, land use conflict and inefficiency of AD plants were identified as barriers to AD in the UK; promoting AD, providing finance, minimizing bureaucracy and simplification of AD systems are options for promoting AD adoption. This thesis also documents the implications of these findings for knowledge, policy and practice, and based on these recommendations are made, some of which are: better engagement of farmers in policy development for AD and soil management; use of small AD plants, demonstration, networking and training for AD adoption; promote soil conservation in theory and practice; and provision of enhanced support for owners, potential investors and farmers through incentives, simplified planning approval process, and available market for AD product.
    • The sportization of swimming: A sociological examination of the development of swimming as a modern competitive sport, c.1595-1908

      Bloyce, Daniel; Cock, Steven (University of Chester, 2012-04)
      Modern competitive swimming is a highly structured, organized, codified and regulated sport. This has not always been the case. The aim of this thesis has been to examine the long-term development of competitive forms of swimming throughout the periods between the late sixteenth and early twentieth centuries. Despite some recent historical analyses, the emergence of swimming as a modern competitive sport is an under-researched topic. There are no sociological analyses relating to the development of competitive swimming and significant gaps within much historical research. This thesis has been conducted from a sociological perspective in order to test the relative adequacy of Norbert Elias’s concept of sportization. Figurational sociologists have often examined the concept of sportization in relation to the development of contact sports such as boxing and rugby. Some authors have sought to criticize figurational sociologists for over-emphasizing issues relating to the increasing control of violence when examining the development of such activities. In this manner, there is scope to contribute to existing empirical and theoretical knowledge by testing the relative adequacy of the concept of sportization in relation to the long-term development of the predominantly non-contact sport of competitive swimming. To this end, data have been examined from a range of documentary sources. Various swimming-based texts, treatises, periodicals and magazines were examined at the British Library and Colindale Newspaper Library in London. The original minute books of the Amateur Swimming Association and its predecessor bodies have also been analyzed. In addition, a range of digitized source material has been examined from several electronic databases. It has been argued that the development of modern competitive swimming was an unplanned and unintended outcome resulting from the complex interweaving of wider social processes in England throughout the periods between the Middle-Ages and the early twentieth century. The earliest reported swimming contests took place in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in the form of a cash wager between two or more individuals. These events were less structured and regulated than modern forms of competitive swimming. Betting upon the outcome of such events was deemed to be an appropriate means to experience heightened levels of tension-excitement within the context of an emerging society in which people were increasingly expected to demonstrate greater self-control over their behaviour and emotions. More organized forms of competitive swimming gradually emerged during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The emergence of an increasingly complex network of clubs, societies and associations at local, county, district and national levels facilitated such developments and contributed to the emergence of standardized rules and regulations within the emerging sport of swimming. Such developments have been explained in relation to ongoing processes of state-formation, pacification, lengthening chains of interdependence and a gradual lowering in the threshold of repugnance within England in the period between the Middle-Ages and the early twentieth century. In this manner, it has been argued that the concept of sportization is an appropriate theoretical framework for explaining the long-term development of the modern non-contact sport of competitive swimming.
    • The Use of Qualitative Risk Analysis Methods to Facilitate Decision Making in the Management of Health and Welfare in Wildlife

      Hill, Sonya; Smith, Tessa; Hartley, Matt (University of Chester, 2018-10-08)
      This thesis is composed of a series of papers, all of which have been published in peer reviewed publications. The papers use the recognised process of qualitative risk assessment in a range of scenarios in the field of wildlife health and welfare in both in situ and ex situ environments. Chapter 1 discusses the challenges faced regarding availability of empirical data in field of wildlife and zoological health and welfare and justifies the exploration of techniques to assist with decision making. The development of risk analysis and its integration with risk management and risk communication to become risk assessment is described before being put into the specific context of wildlife and zoological disease. Chapters 2 and 3 consider two scenarios where disease risk assessment is well established as a tool, importation across national borders and in conservation interventions. Chapter 2 develops the standard import risk assessment approach to include multiple species and multiple diseases. Chapter 3 reviews developments made over the last 25 years and proposes best practice approaches to implement. Chapter 4 describes how the risk assessments formulated as described in Chapter 3 are used for licensing purposes emphasising the importance of risk management and communication. This theme is continued in Chapter 6 where the integration of risk assessment and evidence based decision making is considered in the broad context of a strategic approach to wildlife health bringing together the outcomes and processes described in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5. The papers in Chapters 2,5 and 8 are focused on how risk analysis aids in development of disease control approaches and policy. The evidence base is composed primarily of peer-reviewed literature supported by expert review of the finalised assessment. Chapter 7 uses risk assessment in an applied scenario, taking the recognised process and modifying it to structure an active disease investigation demonstrating the versatility of the technique. Chapter 9 takes this a step further by again adapting the methodology which, has historically been used primarily for infectious diseases, to consider reproduction and assess risks to welfare rather than purely health. The paper in Chapter 9 builds on the methodology by combining existing peer-reviewed literature with data collected specifically for the purpose of feeding into the assessment and utilising a stakeholder and expert opinion elicitation workshop to obtain data too. These process are proposed and described in Chapter 3. The final chapter critically reviews risk assessment, highlighting three key areas of potential weakness and proposing approaches to address these criticisms. The value of the approach in wildlife and zoological health and welfare as demonstrated by this series of papers is described