Assessing biomarkers of ageing as measures of cumulative animal welfare

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William Bradshaw


In order to determine which conditions provide the best overall quality of life for nonhuman animals, it is important to be able to measure their cumulative welfare experience. The ideal measure of cumulative welfare would be comprehensive, objectively measurable, and easy to transfer across species; however, existing approaches fall far short of this ideal. Recent academic work has suggested that measures of biological ageing could provide a highly promising alternative measure of cumulative welfare, which comes much closer to meeting these ideal goals. Here, I review the existing empirical support for the use of biomarkers of ageing as a measure of cumulative welfare, discuss the prerequisites of applying the method, and explore a number of important caveats that may limit its applicability. Overall, despite some important potential weaknesses, biomarkers of ageing are likely to represent an important step forward in the assessment of cumulative animal welfare, which could potentially help resolve some important long-running uncertainties and disputes in the animal-welfare movement.



Animal Sciences, Life Sciences, Other Animal Sciences


Ageing, animal welfare, biological ageing, biomarkers, telomeres, welfare biology, welfare science, wild animal welfare


Published: 2019-12-17 22:41


CC-By Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International