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Undirected singing rate as a non-invasive tool for welfare monitoring in isolated male zebra finches


Yamahachi, Homare; Zai, Anja T; Tachibana, Ryosuke O; Stepien, Anna E; Rodrigues, Diana I; Cavé-Lopez, Sophie; Lorenz, Corinna; Arneodo, Ezequiel M; Giret, Nicolas; Hahnloser, Richard H R (2020). Undirected singing rate as a non-invasive tool for welfare monitoring in isolated male zebra finches. PLoS ONE, 15(8):e0236333.

Abstract

Research on the songbird zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) has advanced our behavioral, hormonal, neuronal, and genetic understanding of vocal learning. However, little is known about the impact of typical experimental manipulations on the welfare of these birds. Here we explore whether the undirected singing rate can be used as an indicator of welfare. We tested this idea by performing a post hoc analysis of singing behavior in isolated male zebra finches subjected to interactive white noise, to surgery, or to tethering. We find that the latter two experimental manipulations transiently but reliably decreased singing rates. By contraposition, we infer that a high-sustained singing rate is suggestive of successful coping or improved welfare in these experiments. Our analysis across more than 300 days of song data suggests that a singing rate above a threshold of several hundred song motifs per day implies an absence of an acute stressor or a successful coping with stress. Because singing rate can be measured in a completely automatic fashion, its observation can help to reduce experimenter bias in welfare monitoring. Because singing rate measurements are non-invasive, we expect this study to contribute to the refinement of the current welfare monitoring tools in zebra finches.

Abstract

Research on the songbird zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) has advanced our behavioral, hormonal, neuronal, and genetic understanding of vocal learning. However, little is known about the impact of typical experimental manipulations on the welfare of these birds. Here we explore whether the undirected singing rate can be used as an indicator of welfare. We tested this idea by performing a post hoc analysis of singing behavior in isolated male zebra finches subjected to interactive white noise, to surgery, or to tethering. We find that the latter two experimental manipulations transiently but reliably decreased singing rates. By contraposition, we infer that a high-sustained singing rate is suggestive of successful coping or improved welfare in these experiments. Our analysis across more than 300 days of song data suggests that a singing rate above a threshold of several hundred song motifs per day implies an absence of an acute stressor or a successful coping with stress. Because singing rate can be measured in a completely automatic fashion, its observation can help to reduce experimenter bias in welfare monitoring. Because singing rate measurements are non-invasive, we expect this study to contribute to the refinement of the current welfare monitoring tools in zebra finches.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Neuroinformatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
Life Sciences > General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
Health Sciences > Multidisciplinary
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Agricultural and Biological Sciences, General Medicine
Language:English
Date:10 August 2020
Deposited On:16 Feb 2021 09:06
Last Modified:17 Feb 2021 21:02
Publisher:Public Library of Science (PLoS)
ISSN:1932-6203
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236333
PubMed ID:32776943

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