Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 478022
Title The role of genes, epigenetics and ontogeny in behavioural development
Author(s) Rodenburg, T.B.
Source Applied Animal Behaviour Science 157 (2014). - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 8 - 13.
Department(s) Behavioural Ecology
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2014
Keyword(s) gallus-gallus-domesticus - feather pecking behavior - laying hens - maternal-care - low mortality - offspring phenotype - zebra finches - stress - selection - cannibalism
Abstract This review focuses on the role of genes, epigenetics and ontogeny in behavioural devel-opment of animals. The behavioural characteristics of an individual are determined by itsgenes and by its physical and social environment. Not only the individual’s early life andcurrent environment are of importance, but also the environment of previous generations.Through epigenetic processes, stress in parents and even grandparents can translate intochanges in behavioural and physical characteristics of the offspring. Another influentialfactor for behavioural development is maternal hormones. Recent studies indicate thathormonal effects may also be closely related to epigenetic changes. Also, the environmentduring ontogeny has considerable impact on behavioural development: in both mice andlaying hens, high quality maternal care resulted in animals that were less fearful. In layinghens maternal care also led to a reduction in cannibalistic pecking. Genetic selection andselection experiments will also play a key role in breeding animals for the housing systemsof the future. To optimize behavioural development of farm animals and to minimize risksof damaging behaviour, integral approaches are needed that combine selection of the opti-mal genotype with provision of a favourable environment for parents and offspring, bothduring ontogeny and later life.
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