Dr Susan Jarvis

Research Interests

Susan Jarvis newI have extensive research experience in animal physiology and behaviour, with a particular interest in the physiology of maternal behaviour and how that affects offspring survival. Much of my career has involved working on improving the farrowing environment for the pig.

The impetus for this results from work myself and Professor Alistair Lawrence conducted looking at the stress physiology of the farrowing pig in intensive systems and the impact on her maternal behaviour.

This led to further postdoctoral research concentrating on prenatal stress and maternal behaviour. The results suggested that piglets born to mothers that had experienced social stress during pregnancy showed an increase in their own stress reactivity and posed questions about early life experiences (prenatal and neonatal) and the impact on later life.

This led to work funded by the BBSRC Animal Welfare Initiative: in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow and the Roslin Institute, researchers from our group (Dr Kenny Rutherford) to investigate the consequences of such prenatal stress for long-term welfare and productivity.

Additional collaborative work has involved looking at improving neonatal piglet survival in alternative, welfare-friendly systems using genetic selection strategies (Genomum), as well as co-ordinating an EU funded (Welfare Quality) project investigating the behavioural and physiological aspects of piglet survival.

Research Projects

  • Defra: Genetic selection for improved pre-weaning survival of piglets (Genomum)
  • BBSRC: Perinatal programming of stress responses, nociceptive mechanisms and the welfare consequences
  • EU Framework 6 Welfare Quality: Neonatal Mortality in Piglets
  • Scottish Government: Livestock welfare

Teaching and Supervision

My main current role is as Programme Director for the MSc in Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare at University of Edinburgh and regularly teach and supervise MSc dissertation projects.

I supervised a PhD student (Dr Emma Baxter) who studied the behavioural and physiological indicators of piglet survival and the influence of genetics and environment.

I am currently co-supervising a PhD student (Nadiah Yusof) who will study the impact of pre-natal stress on the maternal behaviour of sheep.

Selected Publications

  • Baxter EM , Jarvis S , Palarea-Albaladejo J , Edwards SA. The Weaker Sex? The Propensity for Male-Biased Piglet Mortality. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30318. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030318, 2012
  • Baxter EM, Jarvis S, Sherwood L, Farish M, Roehe R, Lawrence AB, Edwards SA. Genetic and environmental effects on piglet survival and maternal behaviour of the farrowing sow. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 130, 28–41. 2011
  • Ison, S. H., D'Eath, R. B., Robson, S. K., Baxter, E. M., Ormandy, E., Douglas, A. J., Russell, J. A., Lawrence, A. B., and Jarvis, S. Subordination style' in pigs? The response of pregnant sows to mixing stress affects their offspring's behaviour and stress reactivity Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 124, 16-27. 2010
  • Rutherford, K., Robson, S., Donald, R., Jarvis, S., Sandercock, D., Scott, E., Nolan, A., and Lawrence, A. B. Prenatal stress amplifies the immediate behavioural responses to acute pain in piglets Biology Letters, 5, 452-454. 2009
  • Baxter, E. M., Jarvis, S., Sherwood, L., Robson, S. K., Ormandy, E., Farish, M., Smurthwaite, K. M., Roehe, R., Lawrence, A. B., and Edwards, S. A. Indicators of piglet survival in an outdoor farrowing system Livestock Science, 124, 266-276. 2009
  • Roehe, R., Shrestha, N. P., Mekkawy, W., Baxter, E. M., Knap, P. W., Smurthwaite, K. M., Jarvis, S., Lawrence, A. B., and Edwards, S. A. Genetic analyses of piglet survival and individual birth weight on first generation data of a selection experiment for piglet survival under outdoor conditions Livestock Science, 121, 173-181. 2009
  • Baxter E.M., Jarvis S., D'Eath R.B., Ross D.W., Nevison I.M., Robson S.K., Farish M., Lawrence A.B., Edwards S.A. 2008. Investigating the behavioural and physiological indicators of neonatal survival in pigs. Theriogenology 69: 773-783 Full Text
  • Jarvis S., Moinard C., Robson S.K., Summer B.E.H., Douglas A.J., Seckl J.R., Russell J.A., Lawrence A.B. 2008. Effects of weaning age on the behavioural and neuroendocrine development of piglets. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Volume 110, Issues 1-2, March 2008, Pages 166-181 Full Text
  • Jarvis S., D'Eath R.B., Robson S.K., Lawrence A.B. 2006. The effect of confinement during lactation on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and behaviour of primiparous sows. Physiology and Behaviour 87(2): 345-352   Full Text
  • Jarvis,S., Moinard,C., Robson,S.K., Baxter,E., Ormandy,E., Douglas,A.J., Seckl,J.R., Russell,J.A. & Lawrence,A.B. 2006. Programming the offspring of the pig by prenatal social stress: Neuroendocrine activity and behaviour. Hormones and Behavior 49, 68-80. Full Text
  • Jarvis S., Calvert S.K., Stevenson J., vanLeeuwen N., Lawrence A.B. 2002. Pituitary-adrenal activation in pre-parturient pigs (Sus scrofa) is associated with behavioural restriction due to lack of space rather than nesting substrate. Animal Welfare 11(4): 371-384 Full Text
  • Jarvis S., McLean K.A., Chirnside J., Deans L.A., Calvert S.K., Molony V., Lawrence A.B. 1997. Opioid-mediated changes in nociceptive threshold during pregnancy and parturition in the sow. PAIN 72(1-2): 153-159 Full Text

Dr Susan Jarvis

Behavioural Scientist

Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 01315354019

Fax: 0131 535 3121

E-mail: susan.jarvis@sruc.ac.uk