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Author(s): Olsson, I Anna S
Westlund, Karolina
Title: More than numbers matter: the effect of social factors on behaviour and welfare of laboratory rodents and non-human primates
Issue Date: 2007
Abstract: With the development of laboratory animal science, increasing attention has been given to the possible influence of housing and husbandry on the behaviour and welfare of laboratory animals as well as on the scientific integrity. With the present paper, we aim to contribute to this knowledge by reviewing existing literature on how social factors influence laboratory rodents and non-human primates. We use social ecology in the wild as a starting point to understand experimental studies of these social species. Laboratory studies show that preweaning social experiences, and lack thereof, affect the development of social skills and capacity to cope with stressful situations in both primates and rodents. Studies of deprivation, of preference and of demand indicate that both rodents and primates are highly motivated to interact with conspecifics. When housed alone, rodents and primates typically show a more ‘anxious’ reaction in behaviour tests, and are more profoundly affected by certain stressors, although there seem to be some differences in how rodent males and females react to different social situations. However, for social housing to be beneficial for the animals, compatible and stable groups are crucial. When forming groups of monkeys in captivity, the age and sex of individuals and their relative age difference, the taxonomic membership of the animals as well as the introductory technique are factors of importance for success. Kinship is also of importance for the compatibility of both rodent and primate groups. Social instability through changes of group composition is apparently stressful, resulting in behavioural and physiological alterations in both rodents and primates. The effects of social conditions around testing have been given much less attention, but several studies show that animals react differently in behaviour tests when tested in group than when tested individually. Altogether, the most commonly used laboratory rodents and primates belong to social species, and their behaviour and welfare are strongly affected by previous and present social environment. Factors such as group composition and stability, rank and previous social experience therefore need to be taken into account both when designing housing systems and when planning experiments and interpreting results.
Subject: Group
Social isolation
Social housing
Guinea pig
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Source: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol.103(3-4), p.229-254
Document Type: Artigo em Revista Científica Internacional
Rights: openAccess
Appears in Collections:I3S - Artigo em Revista Científica Internacional

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