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Dr Gareth Pearce BSc(AgSci)(Hons) BVSc MA MVS PhD GradCertEd(HE) PgCertAqVetS PgCertWLBio&Cons PgCertEcolMon PgCertIAWEL RAnimSci(AnHth&Wel) MRCVS

Dr Gareth Pearce, BSc(AgSci)(Hons) BVSc MA MVS PhD GradCertEd(HE) PgCertAqVetS PgCertWLBio&Cons PgCertEcolMon PgCertIAWEL RAnimSci(AnHth&Wel) MRCVS

University Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Health and Production

Fellow & Director of Studies in Pre-clinical and Clinical Veterinary Medicine

Animal Welfare

Animal Emotion

Farm Animal Health

Aquatic Ecosystems

Gareth Pearce is accepting applications for PhD students.

Gareth Pearce is available for consultancy.


Gareth graduated in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Nottingham and then completed a PhD in Animal Behaviour and Reproduction at the University of Leeds before undertaking Research Fellowships at the Universities of Western Australia and Melbourne. He then qualified as a Veterinary Surgeon at the Universities of Melbourne and Bristol before working in mixed and specialist pig practice in the UK and New Zealand. He returned to the UK in 2001 to work as a Veterinary Officer in MAFF / Defra during the FMD outbreak in Cumbria and beyond.  He has previously held Senior Lectureships at Sydney, Massey and Harper Adams Universities and also taught at the Universities of Aberdeen and Liverpool.  He moved to the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge in 2004 where he undertakes teaching and research in Animal Health and Welfare.  


Subject groups/Research projects

Comparative Pathobiology:

Animal Health Management

Animal Welfare

Antimicrobial Resistance

Research Interests

Gareth Pearce's research has been primarily concerned with the influence of behaviour, environment and management on animal disease, welfare and productivity. Studies involving a range of domestic species such as pigs and horses have investigated a wide range of health and welfare measures including physical changes (skeletal adaptation in horses, pleurisy and gastric ulceration in pigs) and physiological changes (serum acute phase proteins such as haptoglobin and plasma cortisol concentrations) occurring in response to the animal's environment, health status and management. Recent research has included the use of social network analysis to investigate disease transmission dynamics and welfare in populations of free-living wild animals (meerkats in the South African Kalahari) and farmed animals in both intensive (Atlantic salmon in Norway) and extensive environments (Bos indicus cattle in Queensland, Australia). Particular current interests also include investigating the ecology of antibiotic resistance in the aquatic environment using NGS, metagenomics and transcriptomics, the use of laterality to assess emotional state and the influence of individual animal temperament on social network dynamics and welfare assessment in cattle and bottlenose dolphins.


Research Supervision

Current Research Students


Will Rowe: Meta-Genomic Assessment of Risks from Antimicrobial Resistance and Bacterial Pathogen Release from Human and Commercially Important Animal Faecal Sources. 2012-2015.

Cristina Acasuso-Rivero: The behavioural, morphological and epigenetic effects of captivity on the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus). 2015 - 2018.


Harriet Davies: Developing methods to assess positive emotions in cattle. 2015 – 2016.

George Mayes: A comparison of the quantitative methods of assessing pain and negative emotional states in dairy calves associated with castration and disbudding in the clinical setting. 2015 – 2016. 

Emma Rigby: Using rumination activity from neck mounted monitors as a predictor for mastitis status and milk production in lactating dairy cows. 2015 – 2016. 

Sue White: Development and application of a single Equine Pain Scale to improve pain recognition and treatment in horses. 2015 – 2016.


Recent Previous Research Students


Hernan Canon-Jones: Social network analysis of behavioural interactions influencing the development of fin damage in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). 2008- 2011. 

Julian Drewe: Social networks and infectious disease transmission: epidemiology of tuberculosis in wild meerkats. 2005 – 2009. 


Katy Syrett: Assessing emotional states in dairy cattle. 2013 - 2104. 

Moira Kelly: An investigation of the influence of dominance and social status on susceptibility to disease in dairy cattle. 2013 - 2104. 

Peter Silke: The effect of individual temperament on susceptibility to production disease in dairy cattle. 2013 - 2104.


  • Environment
  • Genomics
  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Welfare
  • Behaviour
  • Swine
  • Bioinformatics
  • Animal welfare science
  • Agriculture
  • Veterinary Education

Key Publications

  • Rowe, W.P.M., Baker, K.S., Verner-Jeffreys, D., Baker-Austin, C., Ryan, J.J., Maskell, D. and Pearce, G.P. (2015). Search Engine for Antimicrobial Resistance: A Cloud Compatible Pipeline and Web Interface for Rapidly Detecting Antimicrobial Resistance Genes Directly from Sequence Data. PLOS ONE.  DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0133492. Published: July 21, 2015.

  • Phillips, C.J.C., Oevermans, H., Syrett, K.L., Jespersen,  A.Y. & Pearce, G.P. (2015). Lateralization of behavior in dairy cows in response to conspecifics and novel persons. Journal of Dairy Science. DOI: Published online: January 30, 2015.

  • Blacklaws, B.A, Gajda, A.M., Tippelt, S., Jepson, P.D., Deaville, R., Van Bressem, M-F. & Pearce, G.P. (2013) Molecular identification of poxviruses associated with epidermal lesions in UK cetaceans. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71734. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071734
  • Jäger, H.C., Mckinley, T.J., Wood, J.L.N., Pearce, G.P., Williamson, S., Strugnell, B.W., Done, S. & Tucker, A.W. (2012) Factors associated with pleurisy in pigs: a case-control analysis of slaughter pig data for England and Wales. PLoS ONE. 7 (2): E29655
  • Cañon Jones, H. A., Noble, C., Damsgård, B., & Pearce, G. P. (2012). Investigating the influence of predictable and unpredictable feed delivery schedules upon the behaviour and welfare of Atlantic salmon parr (Salmo salar) using social network analysis and fin damage. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 138 (1–2), 132-140
  • Drewe, J. A., Eames, K. T., Madden, J. R., & Pearce, G. P. (2011). Integrating contact network structure into tuberculosis epidemiology in meerkats in South Africa: Implications for control. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 101(1-2), 113-120.
  • Cañon Jones, H. A., Noble, C., Damsgård, B., & Pearce, G. P. (2011). Social network analysis of the behavioural interactions that influence the development of fin damage in Atlantic salmon parr (Salmo salar) held at different stocking densities. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 133(1-2), 117-126.
  • Madden, J. R., Drewe, J. A., Pearce, G. P., & Clutton-Brock, T. H. (2011). The social network structure of a wild meerkat population: 3. Position of individuals within networks. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65(10), 1857-1871.
  • Jones, H. A. C., Hansen, L. A., Noble, C., Damsgard, B., Broom, D. M., & Pearce, G. P. (2010). Social network analysis of behavioural interactions influencing fin damage development in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) during feed-restriction. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 127(3-4), 139-151.
  • Madden, J. R., Drewe, J. A., Pearce, G. P., & Clutton-Brock, T. H. (2009). The social network structure of a wild meerkat population: 2. Intragroup interactions. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 64(1), 81-95.
  • Drewe, J. A., Madden, J. R., & Pearce, G. P. (2009). The social network structure of a wild meerkat population: 1. Inter-group interactions. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 63(9), 1295-1306.
  • Drewe, J. A., Dean, G. S., Michel, A. L., Lyashchenko, K. P., Greenwald, R., & Pearce, G. P. (2009). Accuracy of three diagnostic tests for determining Mycobacterium bovis infection status in live-sampled wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta) Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation, 21, 31-39.
  • Drewe, J. A., Foote, A. K., Sutcliffe, R. L., & Pearce, G. P. (2009). Pathology of Mycobacterium bovis infection in wild meerkats (Suricata suricatta).. Journal of Comparative Pathology, 140(1), 12-24.
  • Amory, J.R., Mackenzie, A.M., Eckersall, P.D., Stear, M.J. & Pearce, G.P. (2007). Influence of rearing conditions and respiratory disease on haptoglobin levels in the pig at slaughter.  Research in Veterinary Science 83: 428-435.
  • Kelly, H.R.C., Browning, H.M., Day, J.E.L., Martins, A., Pearce, G.P., Stopes, .C, & Edwards, S.A. (2007). The effect of breed type, housing and feeding system on performance of growing pigs managed under organic conditions.  Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture 87: 2794-2800.