Using Behavioral Instability to Investigate Behavioral Reaction Norms in Captive Animals: Theoretical Implications and Future Perspectives

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Abstract

Behavioral instability is a concept used for indicating environmental stress based on behavioral traits. This study investigates the possibility of using behavioral instability as a tool for assessing behavioral reaction norms in captive animals. The understanding of personality in captive animals can be a useful tool in the development of enrichment programs in order to improve animal welfare. In this study, a case study examined how olfactory stimuli affected the behavior of two polar bears Ursus maritimus in captivity. Using continuous focal sampling throughout the day, it was found that for many behaviors, the individuals responded differently to stimuli, indicating that there was a difference in behavioral reaction norms. This is shown using multiple approaches. One approach used traditional methods for behavioral analyses, and the other approach used the concept of behavioral instability as a new quantitative method. This study demonstrates the utility of behavioral instability as a new quantitative method for investigating behavioral reaction norms, expanding the possibility of comparing behavioral responses between species. Moreover, it is shown that outliers-that cause asymmetric distributions-should not be removed in behavioral analysis, without careful consideration. In conclusion, the theoretical implications and future perspectives of behavioral instability are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number603
JournalSymmetry
Volume12
Issue number4
Number of pages1
ISSN2073-8994
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Keywords

  • Asymmetric diversity
  • Asymmetry
  • Captivity
  • Enrichment
  • Ethogram
  • Olfactory stimuli
  • Stereotypy
  • Ursus maritimus

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