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  Suzanne D.E. Held


     Research Fellow in Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare

      T +44 (0) 117 9289571

F +44 (0) 117 9289582

E suzanne.held(at)

Room 0.17, Dolberry Building, Langford



I did my PhD on social behaviour and immune competence in rabbits at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth,

with Bob Wootton and Rod Turner.  After finishing in 1996 I first moved to the Dept. of Zoology at Oxford University,

then onto Bristol in 1998 to work with Mike Mendl (Bristol) and Richard Byrne (St. Andrews) on pig social cognition. A further

BBSRC-grant took me briefly back to Oxford to work on maternal behavioural styles in outdoor sows on a joint project with Mike Mendl

and Georgia Mason (now Guelph). I also spent six months on a Royal Society Traveling Fellowship at the University of Waikato

and AgResearch in Hamilton, NZ, with Lindsay Matthews, Bill Temple and Mary Foster.  After 7 months off on maternity leave in 2005-2006,

I am now back at Bristol for research and teaching on the BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare.



Research interests

I study fundamental and applied aspects of domestic animal behaviour and cognition.
Currently funded projects are on:

·         social cognition of the domestic pig with Mike Mendl (Bristol) and Dick Byrne (St Andrews; BBSRC-funded);

·         individual differences in pigs' cognitive and behavioural responses to social stress and disease challenge with Mike Mendl, Mick Bailey, Mike Toscano, Luca Melotti (all Bristol; Defra-funded);

·         effects of under-nutrition around conception on cognitive and behavioural development in lambs
with Lindsay Matthews (AgResearch, NZ), Jane Harding (Liggins Institute, NZ; NZ-funded);

·         Evolution of Social Cognition(ESF-funded European Research Network).


Research grants

2005-2009: BBSRC “Cognitive bases of competitive behaviour and information transfer in domestic pigs”.  Principal Applicants: Mendl (Bristol), Byrne (St. Andrews), Held; 

2004-2005: EU – FP6 “Development of a decision support tool to increase on-farm piglet survival”. Principal Investigator: Held; 

2002-2004: DEFRA “An epidemiological study of risk factors associated with pre-weaning mortality on commercial pig farms”.  Principal Investigators: Mendl (Bristol), Green (Warwick), Held;

2000-2003: BBSRC “Maternal behaviour of outdoor sows: variability and contribution to piglet growth and survival”. Principal Applicants: Held, Mason (Oxford), Mendl (Bristol).


Editorial Board

                Animal Behaviour (2010 - )



Year 2 Animal Behaviour

Year 3 Applying Behavioural Knowledge



Public Understanding of Science/Media

2005 Scientific Consultant Mona-Lisa-France2-Arte ‘Humananimal – the Animal Mind’

2009 Interviewed for articles on ‘Pig Intelligence’ in New York Times, Sueddeutsche Zeitung

2010 Scientific Consultant BBC2 ‘Secret Life of Pigs’



Selected publications

Held, S.D.E., Byrne, R.W., Jones, S., Murphy, E., Friel, M. and Mendl, M. 2010. Pigs adjust their foraging preference depending on whom they are foraging with. Animal Behaviour, in press.


Held, S.D.E. 2010. Concept Formation. In D. Mills (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Wallingford: CABI Publishing, in press.


Held, S.D.E. 2010. Deceit Behaviour. In D. Mills (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare. Wallingford: CABI Publishing. in press.


Hernandez, C., Harding, J., Oliver, M., Bloomfield, F., Held, S. and Matthews, L. 2009. Effects of litter size, sex and peri-conceptional ewe nutrition on side preference and cognitive flexibility on the offspring. Behavioural Brain Research, 204: 82-87.


Held, S.D.E., Cooper, J.J. and Mendl, M. 2008. Advances in the study of cognition, behavioural needs and emotions. In: The Welfare of Pigs. Ed. J. Marchant Forde. Kluwer Publishers.


Wang, B., Yu, B., Karim, M., Hu, H., McGreevy, P., Petocz, P., Held, S. and Brand-Miller, J. 2007. Sialic acid: a novel nutrient that enhances learning and memory. American Journal Clinical Nutrition, 85: 561-569.


Held. S.D.E. 2007. Behavioural indicators of good welfare: why not play? Proceedings of the XXX International Ethological Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, p. 61.

Held, S., Mason, G.J. and Mendl, M. 2007. Using the Piglet Scream Test to enhance piglet survival on farms: data from outdoor sows. Animal Welfare, 16: 267-271.

Held, S., Mason, G.J. and Mendl, M. 2006. Maternal responsiveness in outdoor sows from first to fourth parities. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 98:  216-233.

O'Reilley, K.M., Harris, M.J., Mendl, M., Held, S., Moinard, C., Statham, P., Marchant Forde J. and Green L.E. 2006. Generating hypotheses for factors associated with pre-weaning mortality on commercial pig farms. Veterinary Record, 159: 193-196.

Held, S. Baumgartner J., KilBride, A., Byrne, R.W., Mendl, M. 2005. Foraging Behaviour in domestic pigs (Sus scrofa): remembering and prioritizing food sites of different value. Animal Cognition, 8: 114-121.

Held, S., Mendl, M., Devereux, C. and Byrne, R.W. 2002. Foraging pigs alter their behaviour in response to exploitation. Animal Behaviour, 64: 157-166.

Held, S., Mendl., M., Laughlin K. and Byrne, R.W. 2002. Cognition studies with pigs: livestock cognition and its implication for production. Journal of Animal Science 80. E10-E17

Held, S., Mendl, M., Devereux, C. and Byrne, R.W. 2001. Behaviour of domestic pigs in a visual perspective taking task. Behavior, 138: 1337-1354.

Held, S., Mendl, M., Devereux, C. and Byrne, R.W. 2001. Studies in social cognition: from primates to pigs. Animal Welfare, 10: S209-217.

Held, S., Mendl, M., Devereux, C. and Byrne, R.W. 2000. Social tactics of pigs in a competitive foraging task: the ‘Informed Forager’ paradigm. Animal Behaviour, 59: 569-576.

Last updated 20th Jan 2010

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