Measurement of cognitive bias and cortisol levels to evaluate the effects of space restriction on captive collared peccary (Mammalia, Tayassuidae)

Flávia R.M. Oliveira, Sérgio L.G. Nogueira-Filho, Maria B.C. Sousa, Carlos T.S. Dias, Michael Mendl, Selene S.C. Nogueira

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Abstract

We use the judgement-bias paradigm to evaluate whether space restriction in metabolism pens affects the emotional state of collared peccary (Pecari tajacu) during a nutritional experiment. We trained individual adult males to ‘go’ to a specific location within 30 s when a positive auditory cue (whistle; CS + ) was given in order to receive cassava root pieces as a reward, and to ‘no-go’ when a negative cue (caxixi percussion instrument; CS-) was sounded to avoid punishment (jet of water) and no reward. An ‘ambiguous’ auditory cue (a drumstick hitting an aluminum plate; CSA) was presented to probe decision-making under ambiguity. Individuals were subjected to five 8-day housing conditions in the order: H1 (control-no space restriction-metabolism pen and additional area), H2 (space restriction without environmental enrichment (metabolism pen only), H3 (control-no space restriction), H4 (space restriction with environmental enrichment), and H5 (control-no space restriction). On the eighth day of each housing condition, each animal was exposed to 10 judgement bias trials of each of the three cue types: CS+, CS-, and CSA. We recorded whether animals showed the ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ response after each type of cue and collected fecal samples to assess fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations. Peccaries learnt to discriminate CS+ and CS- and maintained this discrimination during the five housing conditions tested. The response to the ambiguous cue (CSA) varied according to the housing condition. During H1, the peccaries made a similar proportion of ‘go’ responses to all three types of cue (Ps > 0.07). During H2 and H3, ‘go’ responses to CSA and CS- cues occurred in similar proportions (Ps > 0.70), but peccaries showed more go responses to CS+ (Ps < 0.03) indicating that they were responding to CSA as if it were more likely to predict the waterjet than food. During H4 and H5, peccaries again made a similar proportion of ‘go’ responses to all three types of cue, as in H1. During H2 and H3, fecal glucocorticoid metabolite concentrations were higher than during the other tests (208.0 ± 16.4 vs. 141.6 ± 25.9 ng.g−1 dry feces, Ps < 0.03). Our results suggest that space restriction may induce physiological stress and influence judgement bias and affective state in peccaries, and that these effects may be offset by environmental enrichment. However, the possibility of a general habituation to the housing conditions across time cannot be ruled out.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76–82
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume181
Early online date28 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

Keywords

  • animal welfare
  • cognitive bias
  • environmental enrichment
  • judgement bias
  • stress

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