Associate Professor
Office Address
Room 1B-408, 4/F, Block 1, To Yuen Building, 31 To Yuen Street, City University of Hong Kong
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Alan McElligott is an Associate Professor in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences, City University of Hong Kong. He received his BSc from University College Cork, PhD from University College Dublin, and postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich. After serving as faculty member at the University of Nottingham, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Roehampton, he joined City University of Hong Kong in 2020.

Alan is a member of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) as a well as serving on ASAB’s Education Committee. He is also a member of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) and the International Society for Applied Ethology (ISAE). His research has been featured in many news reports across TV, radio, newspapers and other media. Recently his research has been the focus of two TV documentaries on farm livestock cognition and welfare: “SMART AS A GOAT” by ZED TV (France), and “INTO FARM ANIMALS’ MINDS” by ARTE TV (France/Germany).  He is as an editor for Frontiers in Veterinary Sciences, Animals and Animal Sentience.

Research Project: The Role of Buffalo in Lantau Biodiversity Conservation

Twitter: @amcell

  • How Livestock Perceive and Communicate with People
  • Expression and Perception of Animal Emotions
  • Use of Vocalisations in Precision Livestock Farming
  • Mother-Offspring relations in Livestock
  • Domestic Animal Welfare, e.g. dogs and cats
  • Public Attitudes to Animal Welfare and Sentience

MAO A, Giraudet CSE, LIU K, De Almeida Nolasco I, XIE Z, XIE Z, GAO Y, Theobald J, Bhatta R, Stewart R, McElligott AG (2022) Automated identification of chicken distress vocalisations using deep learning models. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 19, 20210921.

Caravaggi A, Amado TF, Brook RK, Ciuti S, Darimont CT, Drouilly M, English HM, Field KA, Iossa G, Martin JE, McElligott AG, Mohammadi A, Nayeri D, O’Neill HMK, Paquet PC, Périquet S, Proulx G, Rabaiotti D, Recio MR, Soulsbury CD, Tadich T, Wynn-Grant R (2021) On the need for rigorous welfare and methodological reporting for the live-capture of large carnivores: a response to de Araujo et al. (2021). Methods in Ecology and Evolution 12, 1793-1799.

McElligott AG, O’Keeffe KH, Green AC (2020) Kangaroos display gazing and gaze alternations during an unsolvable problem task. Biology Letters 16, 20200607.

Herborn K, McElligott AG, Mitchell M, Sandilands V, Bradshaw B, Asher L (2020) Spectral entropy of distress calls as an iceberg indicator for chicken welfare. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 17, 20200086.

Nawroth C, Martin ZH, McElligott AG (2020). Goats use human pointing gestures in an object-choice task. Frontiers in Psychology 11,915.

Baciadonna L, Briefer EF, McElligott AG (2020) Investigation of reward quality-related behaviour as a tool to assess emotions. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 225, 104968.

Baciadonna L, Briefer EF, Favaro L, McElligott AG (2019) Goats distinguish between positive and negative emotion-linked vocalisations. Frontiers in Zoology 16, 25.

Mcloughlin M, Stewart R, McElligott AG (2019) Automated bioacoustics: methods in ecology and conservation and their potential for animal welfare monitoring. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 16, 20190225.

Nawroth C, Albuquerque N, Savalli C, Single M-S, McElligott AG (2018). Goats prefer positive human emotional facial expressions. Royal Society Open Science, 5, 180491.

Spence CE, Osman M, McElligott AG (2017) Theory of Animal Mind: Human Nature or Experimental Artefact? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 21, 333-343.

Valentova JV, Otta E, da Silva M-L, McElligott AG (2017) Underrepresentation of Women in the Senior Levels of Brazilian Science. PEERJ 5, e4000.

Pitcher BJ, Briefer EF, Baciadonna L, McElligott AG (2017) Cross-modal recognition of familiar conspecifics in goats. Royal Society Open Science 4, 160346.

Nawroth C, Prentice PM, McElligott AG (2017) Individual personality differences in goats predict their performance in visual learning and non-associative cognitive tasks. Behavioural Processes 134, 43-53.

Nawroth C, Brett JM, McElligott AG (2016) Goats display audience-dependent human-directed gazing behaviour in a problem-solving task. Biology Letters 12, 20160283.

Padilla de la Torre M, Briefer EF, Reader T, McElligott AG (2015) Acoustic analysis of cattle (Bos taurus) mother-offspring contact calls from a source-filter theory perspective. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 163, 58-68.

Baciadonna L, McElligott AG (2015) The use of judgement bias to assess welfare in farm livestock. Animal Welfare 24, 81-91.

Briefer EF, Tettamanti F, McElligott AG (2015) Emotions in goats: mapping physiological, behavioural and vocal profiles. Animal Behaviour 99, 131-143.

Pitcher BJ, Briefer EF, McElligott AG (2015) Intrasexual selection drives sensitivity to pitch, formants and duration in the competitive calls of fallow bucks. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15, 149.

Briefer EF, Haque S, Baciadonna L, McElligott AG (2014) Goats excel at learning and remembering a highly novel cognitive task. Frontiers in Zoology 11, 20.

Briefer EF, McElligott AG (2013) Rescued goats at a sanctuary display positive mood after former neglect. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 145, 45-55.

Briefer EF, Padilla de la Torre M, McElligott AG (2012) Mother goats do not forget their kids' calls. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 279, 3749-3755.

Briefer EF, McElligott AG (2012) Social effects on vocal ontogeny in an ungulate, the goat (Capra hircus). Animal Behaviour 83, 991-1000.

Briefer E, McElligott AG (2011) Indicators of age, body size and sex in goat kid calls revealed using the source-filter theory. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 133, 175-185.

Curno O, Reader T, McElligott AG, Behnke JM, Barnard CJ (2011) Infection before pregnancy affects immunity and response to social challenge in the next generation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, B 366, 3364-3374.

Briefer E, Vannoni E, McElligott AG (2010) Quality prevails over identity in the sexually selected vocalisations of an ageing mammal. BMC Biology 8, 35.

Prof. McElligott is currently looking for highly motivated and talented PhD students, research assistants, and postdoctoral fellows who are keen to pursue projects matching his research interests. Interested candidates, please contact Prof. McElligott ( with a cover letter and a brief two-page CV.