Animal Wellbeing

Conservation Psychology and Applied Animal Behaviour Research Group

Conservation Psychology addresses human consumption patterns and other unsustainable behaviours, which is a critical part of conservation as without doing so, much of the on-ground conservation work will be in vain as climate change and pollution creates dramatic changes in the landscape. Even today, events that were thought of as once in a hundred year events are becoming standard with devastating effects. Without a change in the way we as humans think, shop, consume and behave the continued existence of many species- and ultimately ourselves - remains tenuous.

Although Conservation Psychology primarily focuses on human attitudes and behaviour, Dr Carla Litchfield has supervised numerous applied animal behaviour projects conducted by Honours and PhD students since 2006 at Australian zoos and sanctuaries. These projects have focused on behaviour and cognition of animals, applying principles of psychology to enhance psychological wellbeing or ‘quality of life’ and ensure maintenance of behavioural diversity through enrichment (food enrichment, non-food enrichment, touch screens); and to further our understanding of problem-solving abilities in non-human animals.

With a focus on ethics, welfare and sustainability, we work closely with conservation practitioners, conservation educators, tourism operators and other stakeholders to ensure that our applied research, evaluation of community-conservation and wildlife tourism programs, is relevant and offers practical recommendations for improved management and welfare of both wildlife and humans. We collaborate with researchers from other disciplines, utilise a variety of methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), focus on local and global issues, and recognise that policy makers need evidence-based research for effective conservation management.

While we strive to publish our research in high impact peer-reviewed journals, we also believe strongly that our work must be easily communicated to everyday people, including children, to facilitate responsible connection to nature and participation in quality citizen science projects.

Learn more about the Research Group

  • Our publications

    Our publications

    Take a look at our latest publications.


  • Our research

    Our research

    Read about the exciting range of research projects being worke on. 

    Our Research

  • Get in touch

    Get in touch

    You can find us at:
    C Building,
    Magill Campus
    p:+61 8 8302 4262
    f: +61 8 8302 4242

    Contact the Group Leader

  • Engage with us

    Engage with us

    Collaborate with us and tap into our research network, highly-skilled academic researchers and talented students.

    More about our collaborations

Areas of study and research

+ Click to minimise