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Department of Veterinary Medicine

Cambridge Veterinary School

Studying at Cambridge


Cristina Acasuso-Rivero

Cristina Acasuso-Rivero

Welfare Assessment and Study on the Adaptations to Captivity of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) Under Different Environmental Conditions

Supervisor: Dr Gareth Pearce



During the first years of my life I shared quite a bit with dolphins, sea-lions, elephant seals, sharks, a couple of monkeys, a cat and some others. During my teeanage years, I got directly involved in the training of dogs. After, I was for two years training dolphins and looking for turtles and whale sharks in the Caribbean. At this time I began to question the ways of zoos and aquariums, so I decided to do something to relate better to other species. 

I did an undergraduate in Biology at the Autonomous University of the State of Morelos (UEAM), in Mexico. I did a semester at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), in Argentina studying Molecular genetics. Later, I did two internships at the CIByC from the UAEM, one on oriols territoriality (birds: Icterus pustulatus) and one on the behaviour of beetles (Ogdoecosta biannularis). My undergraduate thesis (yes, we do that and for 2 full years) was at the institute of biotechnology (iBT) from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). I studied TRH and CRH in the limbic system as a response to accute stress in rats (Rattus norvegicus).

I was then offered a fellowship from the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller to study a Master degree at the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity (CRI), in Paris. This was a life-changing experience. During my masters, I did 4 different internships: 1) Ecomaths & population genetics: Parental analysis, SNPs & statistical modelling in lizards (Zootoca vivipara). Supervised by Dr Jean-Francois Le Galliard from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the University Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC). 2) Statistical modelling and metanalysis for research in hereditary theory. Supervised by Dr Ulrich Steiner at the Institut National de la Eanté et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM). 3) A project on fisheries management, community work, and risk assessment from traffic from vessels in the Aegean supervised by Anastasia Miliou at Archipelagos, Institute of Marine Conservation in Fournos and Samos, Greece. 4) Philosophical research regarding the ethologists, empathy and anthropomorphism supervised by Dr Dominique Lestel at the Museum of Natural History of Paris (MNHN).

Here in Cambridge, I am putting all together in a study of welfare and evolutionary biology.




Subject groups/Research projects

Comparative Pathobiology:

Research Interests

My central interest in science is in behaviour and the environment. From there I broaden my interests to physiology, learning abilities, frustration, (epi)genetics, the hereditary theory, statistical modelling and philosophy. Today I am putting all together from an animal welfare perspective.

- Envionmental Assessments
- Personality Evaluations
- Physiological stress, by salivary cortisol analysis
- Study of morphological features
- Time-budget analysis
- Study of neophobia
- Learning tests
- Cognitive Bias tests


  • Environment
  • Evolution
  • cognition
  • Stress
  • Behaviour
  • Animal welfare science
  • animal behaviour
  • epigenetics, MHC
  • phenotypic plasticity

Key Publications

Acasuso-Rivero, C., Murren, C.J., Schlichting, C.D., Steiner, U.K., 2019. Adaptive phenotypic plasticity for life-history and less fitness-related traits. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 286, 20190653

Brando, S, Broom, DM, Acasuso-Rivero, C, Clark, F (2017). Optimal marine mammal welfare under human care: Current efforts and future directions. Behavioural Processes.

Gutierrez-Mariscal M et al (2012). The acute response of the amygdalar TRH system to psychogenic stressors varies dependent on the paradigm and circadian condition. 1452: 73-84.

Acasuso-Rivero C (2012). In the search of intra and inter-specific balance. Revue de primatologie [En ligne], 4 | 2012, document 6.