Ethology is the study of animal behaviour and its underlying causes. At LiU, influential research is carried out into how various genes influence animal behaviour, well-being and personality. Chickens, dogs and animals used in agriculture are typical objects of study.

For many thousands of years, humans have bred dogs, chickens, goats and other animals to make them suitable for use as domestic animals, in a process known as domestication. Adaptation to a life close to humans is associated with differences in the genetic material between the wild and domesticated forms of a species. Researchers at LiU study these genetic differences between domesticated and wild animals in detail in order to understand important questions of animal behaviour, responses to stress and the effects of domestication.

Animal well-being is a further important topic. Researchers at LiU study various aspects of animal husbandry, stress regulation, and the effects of stress in birds and dogs.


teaser image Lovlie Group

Animal behaviour, personality and cognition - Lovlie Group

We are interested in understanding behavioural variation, and most of our research is on causes and consequences of animal personality, including links to cognition, sexual selection. We mainly (but not only) use red junglefowl as our model species.

teaser image Jensen Group

Animal behaviour, domestication and welfare – Jensen Group

What guides the many facets of how animals behave? How has it changed during domestication, and what does it tell us about their welfare? Focusing on chickens and dogs, we tackle such questions using ethology, genetics and epigenetics.


Genetic architecture of brain structure - Henriksen Group

We use populations of both wild and domestic chickens to identifying the genetic architecture underlying variation in avian brain size and composition, as well as elucidating the effects and pathways of maternal stress.

rooster crowing

The genomic basis of feralisation and domestication - Wright Group

Our research focuses on the genetic basis of domestication, feralisation and behaviour. We use the twin processes of domestication and feralisation to unravel the genetic basis of complex traits.

teaser image Roth Group

Human-animal interaction - Roth Group

We study domesticated animals such as dogs and horses in their interaction with humans and how humans and everyday life affect the animals in the short and long-term. Our focus is on the behaviour of the animal but also on hormonal changes.

teaser image Laska Group

The sensory world of mammals - Laska Group

We study the mechanisms underlying between-species differences in sensory capabilities. Which roles do genes, anatomy, ecology, and behavior play in this context? Further, we study lateralized behavior, e.g. limb preferences, in mammals.

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Why do animals differ in personality?

Are differences in personality linked to brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine? Researchers at LiU used human drugs to see if they would change the behaviour of crickets.


Per Jensen with a chicken in his hands.

Pioneer with animals’ best interests at heart

What do animals do? What do they think? Do they have feelings? These are questions that have fascinated people through the ages and represent a field of research of their own. In ethology, Linköping professor Per Jensen is one of the leading figures.

two chickens.

How young chickens play can indicate how they feel

Researchers have for the first time mapped the development of play in young chickens. The results show that the young chickens spend lots of time playing in different ways – just like puppies and kittens.

red junglefowl chick looking at mealworm through transparent plastic tube.

Impulsivity is influenced by early experiences and gene expression

Differences in impulsivity between individuals are linked to both experience and gene expression, according to a study on the ancestor of domestic chickens, the red junglefowl.