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Work packages

The project holds six work packages.

WP 1: Coping styles

The objectives of WP 1 are (1) to demonstrate and quantify the presence and consistency of individual variation in coping style in Atlantic salmon, sea bream, and sea bass using a combination of behavioural observations and neuroendocrine analyses, (2)to establish non-invasive methods for reliable identification of contrasting stress coping styles in farmed fish, (3) to provide a causal mechanism for the presence of welfare relevant trait correlations in farmed fish, by addressing the genetic regulation of coping styles at the level of the transcriptome and (4) to establish a link between stress coping ability and brain function, by investigating differences in telencephalic structure and function between fish displaying divergent coping styles, with special emphasis on the expression of genes affecting learning, memory, and neuronal plasticity.

WP 2: Appraisal

The objectives of WP 2 are (1) to test the occurrence of cognitive appraisal in fish and to understand how fish experience appetitive and aversive stimuli by assessing the behavioural, neurophysiological and genomic profiles of fish exposed to stimuli
with positive or negative valence, (2) to provide tools and methods to measure appraisal in fish, (3) to investigate how appraisal differs between species and individuals with different coping styles and (4) to explore how predictability and controllability modulate appraisal and coping ability in fish.

WP 3: Allostasis

The objectives of WP 3 are (1) to demonstrate allostasis (constancy through change) as fundamental regulatory process to explain variation in the stress responsiveness of salmon, sea bass and sea bream Specific objectives beyond state of the art, (2) to test how chronic exposure to different levels of allostatic load, ranging from hypo-stimulation to high stress
load, activate the various components of the stress axis, and how this affects the ability to deal with an additional acute stress test and (3) to evaluate the concept of allostasis and to expand the studies of allostatic load and overload using new generation sequencing of different RNA types (micro RNA and mRNA) and of DNA targets for trans-regulation
(transcription factors).

WP 4: Ontogeny

The objectives of WP 4 are (1) to study the ontogeny of neuronal function and neuroendocrine stress responses in Atlantic salmon, gilthead
sea bream and European sea bass, (2) to investigate the impact of early-life stress experiences on the ontogenesis and performance of operant conditioning, allostatic mechanisms and on fish coping ability later in life (production cycle) and (3) to identify whether and how the rearing environment and husbandry practices during early life stages,
impact the plasticity of the brain function associated with coping and the performance of fish at later stages of development.

WP 5: Communication and dissemination

The objectives of WP 5 are (1) to provide an internal project integrating forum across all scientific work packages to ensure internal communication and exchange of know how, (2) to make available to a wider audience information about the work and the outcome of the COPEWELL project with the aim of enhancing the uptake of its results by potential stakeholders and the society and (3) to manage efficient the IPR.

WP 6: Management and coordination

The objectives of WP 6 are (1) effective administration of project management, meeting organization, reporting, and interaction with EC services, and other administrative activities, (2)monitoring of costs and resources statements, distribution of the EC subvention to the partners, auditing, and other financial activities and (3) drafting and monitoring Consortium Agreement by the partners, negotiation for amendments, and other legal issues.

The COPEwell Project:

COPEWELL – A new integrative framework for the study of fish welfare based on the concepts of allostasis, appraisal and coping styles

Project period: 2011-2015

COPEwell leaflet (PDF)


Tore S. Kristiansen 
Project coordinator
Animal welfare