Stress-induced changes in group behaviour

Kleinhappel, Tanja, Pike, Tom and Burman, Oliver (2019) Stress-induced changes in group behaviour. Scientific Reports . ISSN 2045-2322

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Stress-induced changes in group behaviour
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Testing animals in groups can provide valuable data for investigating behavioural stress responses. However, conventional measures typically focus on the behaviour of individual animals or on dyadic interactions. Here, we aimed to determine metrics describing the behaviour of grouping animals that can reveal differences in stress responses. Using zebrafish (Danio rerio) as a model, we observed replicated shoals both immediately and 24 hours after exposure to a novel environment, as an assessment of temporal change in response to an acute stressor. We quantified various standard behavioural measures in combination with metrics describing group structure, including different proximity, social, and spatial metrics. Firstly, we showed a high collinearity between most of the analysed metrics, suggesting that they describe similar aspects of the group dynamics. After metric selection, we found that under acute stress shoals had significantly higher shoal densities, a lower variation in nearest neighbour distances and were in closer proximity to the walls compared to the same groups tested 24 hours later, indicating a reduction in acute stress over time. Thus, the use of group metrics could allow for the refinement of behavioural protocols carried out in a range of research areas, by providing sensitive and rich data in a more relevant social context.

Keywords:anxiety, Danio rerio, zebrafish, novel tank, group structure
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C120 Behavioural Biology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:38951
Deposited On:22 Nov 2019 09:56

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