Keeping invertebrate research ethical in a landscape of shifting public opinion

Eleanor Daisy Drinkwater, Elva Joan Hilda Robinson, Adam G. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


(1) Invertebrate study systems are cornerstones of biological and biomedical research, providing key insights into fields from genetics to behavioural ecology. Despite the widespread use of invertebrates in research there are very few ethical guidelines surrounding their use.
(2) Focussing on two ethical considerations faced during invertebrate studies – collecting methods and euthanasia - we make recommendations for integrating principles of vertebrate research into invertebrate research practice.
(3) We argue, given emerging research on invertebrate cognition and shifting public perception on the use of invertebrates in research, it is vital that the scientific community revisits the ethics of invertebrate use in research.
(4) Without careful consideration and development of the ethics surrounding the use of invertebrates by the scientific community, there is a danger of losing public support. It is imperative that the public understand the significance of research that uses invertebrates and that scientists demonstrate their ethical treatment of their experimental subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberMEE313208
Pages (from-to)1265-1273
Number of pages9
JournalMethods in ecology and evolution
Issue number8
Early online date20 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.


  • ethics
  • invertebrates
  • cognition
  • insects
  • cephalapods
  • crustaceans
  • animal welfare
  • ecology
  • sampling methods
  • euthanasia
  • bycatch

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