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Animal welfare : What are the relationships between physiological and behavioural measures of adaptation ?

INRA Prod. Anim., 20(1), 29-34.


1 INRA, CNRS, Université de Tours, Haras Nationaux, UMR85 Physiologie de la Reproduction et des Comportements, F-37380 Nouzilly, France
2 INRA, UR1037 Station Commune de Recherches en Ichtyophysiologie, Biodiversité et Environnement, F-35042 Rennes, France
3 Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences, Wageningen University, Ethology Group, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
4 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Department of Biobehavioral Health, PA, USA
5 INRA, UR83 Recherches Avicoles, F-37380 Nouzilly, France
6 INRA, Université de Bordeaux 2, UMR1243 Neurogénétique et Stress, F-33077 Bordeaux, France


Assessing the behavioural adaptation of an animal to its environment is complex, notably because numerous criteria can be taken intoconsideration. A better understanding of the relationships between criteria, particularly between behavioural and physiological responses,might help reduce the number of parameters required to assess animal welfare. The existence of relationships between behaviouraland physiological responses of animals to potentially threatening situations has been suggested both by studies comparing animals rearedin different environments and by those comparing animals with extreme genotypes. Moreover, the identification of coping styles in variousspecies has strengthened the idea that physiological and behavioural responses could be related, although the precise laws governingsuch relationships are still difficult to establish and generalise. Thus, considering the complexity of these relationships, it appears reasonableto consider these two groups of responses as partially independent and as giving complementary information about animalwelfare. In the future, the development of complex trait analyses as well as investigation at the level of the brain should improve understandingof the relationships between physiological and behavioural responses.

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