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Else Verbeek

Else Verbeek
I am a researcher in animal welfare specializing in animal behaviour, cognition and emotion at the department of Animal Environment and Health.


I was born in the Netherlands and completed an MSc degree in Animal Sciences (major in ethology and minor in animal breeding and genetics) at Wageningen University. My MSc degree made me realize how little we know about animals' subjective mental states and the underlying neuro-physiology. I decided to do a PhD degree at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, where I could further develop my research skills. After completing my PhD degree I continued my research at CSIRO in Armidale, Australia before moving to Sweden in 2014.


I am interested in studying animal behaviour, cognition, emotion and physiology to assess welfare in a range of different animal species. My PhD research focused on feeding motivation, its underlying endocrinology and the relationship with welfare in sheep. My postdoctoral combined different behavioural, cognitive and physiological measures of emotions with pharmacological approaches to better understand animal cognition and emotion in relation to HPA-axis functioning.

My research at SLU extends my previous research and in one project I am now investigating behaviour, cognition and HPA-axis responding in pigs in relation to the gut microbiota. In another project I am working on developing novel ways to assess the emotional states in dogs, focusing on dogs with separation anxiety.

Selected publications

  1. Verbeek, E., L. Keeling, R. Landberg, J. E. Lindberg and J. Dicksved (2021). The gut microbiota and microbial metabolites are associated with tail biting in pigs. Scientific Reports 11(1): 20547.
  2. Verbeek, E., Dicksved, J. & Keeling, L., 2021. Supplementation of Lactobacillus early in life alters attention bias to threat in piglets. Scientific Reports 11, 10130,
  3. Verbeek, E., Colditz, I., Blache, D., Lee, C., 2019. Chronic stress influences attentional and judgement bias and the activity of the HPA axis in sheep. Plos One. 2019;14(1).
  4. Sutherland, M., Worth, G., Cameron, C., Verbeek, E., 2019. Effect of Morphine Administration on Social and Non-Social Play Behaviour in Calves. Animals. 2019;9(2):56.
  5. Lee, C.,Verbeek, E., Doyle, R., Bateson, M., 2016. Attention bias to threat indicates anxiety differences in sheep. Biology Letters 12 (6), 20150977.
  6. Verbeek, E., Ferguson D., Lee C, 2014. Are hungry sheep more pessimistic? The effects of food restriction on cognitive bias and the involvement of ghrelin in its regulation. Physiology & behavior 123, 67-75.
  7. Verbeek, E., Ferguson, D., Quinquet de Monjour, P., Lee C. 2014. Generating positive affective states in sheep: the influence of food rewards and opioid administration. Applied Animal Behaviour Science; 154, 39-47.
  8. Stockman, C.A., Collins, T., Barnes, A.L., Miller, D., Wickham, S.L., Verbeek, E., Matthews, L., Ferguson, D., Wemelsfelder, F., Fleming P.A., 2014. Qualitative behavioural assessment of the motivation for feed in sheep in response to altered body condition score. Animal Production Science 54 (7), 922-929.
  9. Verbeek, E., Ferguson, D., Quinquet de Monjour, P., Lee C. 2012. Opioid control of behaviour in sheep: Effects of morphine and naloxone on food intake, activity and the affective state. Applied Animal Behaviour Science; 142: 18-29.
  10. Verbeek, E., Waas, J.R., Oliver, M.H., McLeay, L.M., Ferguson, D.M., Matthews, L.R., 2012. Motivation to obtain a food reward of pregnant ewes in negative energy balance: behavioural, metabolic and endocrine considerations. Hormones and Behavior 62: 162-172.
  11. Verbeek, E, Oliver, M.H., Waas, J.R., McLeay, L.M., Blache, D., Matthews, L.R., 2012. Reduced cortisol and metabolic responses of thin ewes to an acute cold challenge in mid-pregnancy: implications for animal physiology and welfare. PLoS ONE 7, e37315.
  12. Verbeek, E., Waas, J., McLeay, L., Matthews, L.R., 2011. Measurement of feeding motivation in sheep and the effects of food restriction. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 132, 121-130.


Researcher at the Department of Animal Environment and Health; Animal Welfare Unit
Telephone: +4618671612
Postal address:
Institutionen för husdjurens miljö och hälsa
Box 7068
750 07 UPPSALA
Visiting address: Ulls väg 26, Uppsala