The Equus Ethogram Project [EEP], is a not for profit initiative attempting to amass the wealth of information available on equid behavior, into one “free” online database.
At the heart of the modern approach to the analysis of behavior in animals is the problem of description. (Marler, 1975)
Research in equid behavior has a long history, but scientific literature is widely scattered and terminology is often inconsistent. Although efforts have led to detailed descriptions of body language, facial expressions and even vocalizations, we have only recorded a fraction of their postures and gestures, and even less so in social interactions, as for example those exhibited affiliatively. Revision of hypothesis and terminologies is a continuous process and as we gain familiarity and insight with species specific behaviors, long standing theories may be challenged and eventually replaced by fitter ones.
This Equus Ethogram Project [EEP] was created to help build an accessible online database in which everyone can participate. The information on the database will be periodically revised and edited. The EEP is to be used in conjunction with prior published ethograms, such as the pioneering Equid Ethogram published by Dr. Sue McDonell in 2003, and will be based on an exhaustive comparative review of pertinent literature pertaining to domestic and feral horses as well as other captive or free-running equids.
One of the fundamental starting points for behavior research is an ethogram of the species under study. An ethogram is a categorical description of specific behavioral responses and sequences. (McDonell, 2000)
In view of contributing to the readily available information, Equilibre has set up the Equus Field Study [EFS] programs, aimed at aiding in current research projects that, in some way or other, contribute to the conservation of the equids under observation.
Developing an ethogram demands considerable amounts of time spent observing and recording behavior for later analysis. Grouping of observed behavior patterns into a readily understandable catalogue, we can help describe and understand how a particular species interacts in a given environment. By clearly defining units or elements of behavior, and ensuring that they are readily distinguishable from one another, comparisons can be made within and among individuals, genders, groups, species, as well as in different contextual situations.
For this project, and following the lead of Dr. Sue Mcdonnell (2003), we have maintained the general outlines proposed in earlier species specific catalogues.
You can help! See how and Get involved.
The EEP needs photos, lots of photos. Although past publications have generally relied on line drawings with some photographic support, we would like to turn the tables and place more emphasis on photographs, but always with artistic support. To achieve this we will need all the help we can muster, and would surely appreciate your contributions. Likewise we are very interested in your stories regarding the remarkable behavior of horses, in any setting.