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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The laboratory domestication of Caenorhabditis elegans
Sterken, M.G. ; Snoek, L.B. ; Kammenga, J.E. ; Andersen, E.C. - \ 2015
Trends in Genetics 31 (2015)6. - ISSN 0168-9525 - p. 224 - 231.
life-history traits - c. elegans - natural variation - social-behavior - npr-1 - genetics - yeast - environment - populations - diversity
Model organisms are of great importance to our understanding of basic biology and to making advances in biomedical research. However, the influence of laboratory cultivation on these organisms is underappreciated, and especially how that environment can affect research outcomes. Recent experiments led to insights into how the widely used laboratory reference strain of the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans compares with natural strains. Here we describe potential selective pressures that led to the fixation of laboratory-derived alleles for the genes npr1, glb-5, and nath-10. These alleles influence a large number of traits, resulting in behaviors that affect experimental interpretations. Furthermore, strong phenotypic effects caused by these laboratory-derived alleles hinder the discovery of natural alleles. We highlight strategies to reduce the influence of laboratory-derived alleles and to harness the full power of C. elegans.
Housing and management factors associated with indicators of dairy cattle welfare
Vries, M. de; Bokkers, E.A.M. ; Reenen, C.G. van; Engel, B. ; Schaik, G. van; Dijkstra, T. ; Boer, I.J.M. de - \ 2015
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 118 (2015)1. - ISSN 0167-5877 - p. 80 - 92.
risk-factors - farming systems - lameness prevalence - stall cleanliness - stocking density - cubicle systems - social-behavior - animal-welfare - claw disorders - herd-level
Knowledge of potential synergies and trade-offs between housing and management factors for different aspects of animal welfare is essential for farmers who aim to improve the level of welfare in their herds. The aim of this research was to identify and compare housing and management factors associated with prevalence of lameness, prevalence of lesions or swellings, prevalence of dirty hindquarters, and frequency of displacements (social behavior) in dairy herds in free-stall housing. Seven observers collected data regarding housing and management characteristics of 179 Dutch dairy herds (herd size: 22–211 cows) in free-stall housing during winter. Lame cows, cows with lesions or swellings, and cows with dirty hindquarters were counted and occurrence of displacements was recorded during 120 min of observation. For each of the four welfare indicators, housing and management factors associated with the welfare indicator were selected in a succession of logistic or log-linear regression analyses. Prevalence of lameness was associated with surface of the lying area, summer pasturing, herd biosecurity status, and far-off and close-up dry cow groups (P <0.05). Prevalence of lesions or swellings was associated with surface of the lying area, summer pasturing, light intensity in the barn, and days in milk when the maximum amount of concentrates was fed (P <0.05). Prevalence of dirty hindquarters was associated with surface of the lying area, proportion of stalls with fecal contamination, head lunge impediments in stalls, and number of roughage types (P <0.05). Average frequency of displacements was associated with the time of introducing heifers in the lactating group, the use of cow brushes, continuous availability of roughage, floor scraping frequency, herd size, and the proportion cows to stalls (P <0.05). Prevalences of lameness and of lesions or swellings were lower in herds with soft mats or mattresses (odd ratio (OR) = 0.66 and 0.58, confidence interval (CI) = 0.48–0.91 and 0.39–0.85) or deep bedding (OR = 0.48 and 0.48, CI = 0.32–0.71 and 0.30–0.77) in stalls, compared with concrete, and in herds with summer pasturing (OR = 0.68 and 0.41, CI = 0.51–0.90 and 0.27–0.61), compared with zero-grazing. Deep bedding in stalls was negatively associated with prevalence of dirty hindquarters (OR = 0.50, CI = 0.29–0.86), compared with hard mats. It was concluded that some aspects of housing and management are common protective factors for prevalence of lameness, lesions or swellings, and dirty hindquarters, but not for frequency of displacements.
Hypothalamic vasotocin and tyrosine hydroxylase levels following maternal care and selection for low mortality in laying hens
Hewlett, S.E. ; Zeinstra, E.C. ; Eerdenburg, Frank J.C.M. ; Rodenburg, T.B. ; Kooten, P.J.S. van; Staay, F.J. van der; Nordquist, R.E. - \ 2014
BMC Veterinary Research 10 (2014). - ISSN 1746-6148 - 10 p.
feather pecking behavior - gallus-domesticus - dopamine neurons - social-behavior - hpa axis - stress - brain - chicken - system - area
BACKGROUND: Feather pecking and cannibalism are major concerns in poultry farming, both in terms of animal welfare and farm economics. Genetic selection and introduction of (aspects of) maternal care have been suggested as potential interventions to reduce feather pecking in laying hens. Altered brain development has been proposed to reflect welfare states in animals, and can provide more insight into the underlying processes involved in feather pecking. Both vasotocin (the avian homologue of vasopressin) and dopaminergic neural circuitry have roles in control of social behaviors as well as in the stress response, and may be linked to feather pecking. Thus, the hypothalamus of adult laying hens selected for low early mortality (LML), which show low feather pecking, was examined and compared with a control line of adult laying hens selected for production characteristics only (CL). The effect of foster hen rearing on the two genetic lines and their hypothalamic morphology was also investigated. RESULTS: We demonstrated an increase in the number of neurons positive for the rate-limiting enzyme in dopamine production, tyrosine hydroxylase, in the periventricular area of the hypothalamus in the LML hens compared to CL hens. Hen-reared chicks showed more vasotocin -positive neurons in the medial pre-optic area compared to the hens raised without a hen. No correlations were found between behavior in an open field at 5-6 weeks of age, and the histology of the same hens at adulthood. CONCLUSION: The hypothalamic dopaminergic and vasotinergic systems are altered in hens following genetic selection or maternal care, indicating a potential role for these systems in feather pecking. Keywords: Hypothalamus, Vasotocin, Vasopressin, Tyrosine hydroxylase, Dopamine, Welfare, Laying hen
Changes in lion (Panthera leo) home range size in Waza National Park, Cameroon
Tumenta, P.N. ; Van't Zelfde, M. ; Croes, B.M. ; Buij, R. ; Funston, P.J. ; Haes, H.A.U. de; longh, H.H. De - \ 2013
Mammalian Biology - Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 78 (2013)6. - ISSN 1616-5047 - p. 461 - 469.
carnivore conservation - social-behavior - africa - savanna - ecology - west
The spatial ecology of Africa lions (Panthera leo) was studied from 2007 to 2009 in Waza National Park, Cameroon, by equipping individual lions with GPS/VHF radio-collars. Mean home range estimates using 100% minimum convex polygons (MCP) and 95% kernel-density estimation (KDE) were respectively 1015 km2 and 641 km2. The lions spent a considerable amount of time out of the park during the study period (21%), resulting in significantly larger wet season home ranges than in the hot dry season when they were largely within the park. Time spent outside of the park coincided with increased livestock predation, especially by males. The seasonal variation observed in home range appeared to be mainly due to prey dispersal, flooding and migrating livestock. Mean home range size was observed to have increased by 58.6% within the last decade. This observed increase in home range could possibly be attributed to recent declines in wild prey abundance and also, may be indicative of a trend of general degradation of the park due to intense human pressure. The change observed in lions’ ranging behaviour was remarkable, with lions crossing the highway parallel to the park to the Cameroon-Nigerian borders. Measures to restore the integrity of the park are urgently needed, which could include the construction of a partial fence along the western boundary of the park to prevent lions moving across the parallel highway.
Diversity in horse enthusiasts with respect to horse welfare: An explorative study
Visser, E.K. ; Wijk-Jansen, E.E.C. van - \ 2012
Journal of Veterinary Behavior 7 (2012)5. - ISSN 1558-7878 - p. 295 - 304.
farm-animal welfare - young horses - social-behavior - stereotypies - management - attitudes - mares
A reduced level of welfare of horses is related to management factors such as low forage feeding, short feeding time, social isolation, and lack of unrestrained exercise. It has been assumed that welfare problems can be reduced and/or partly prevented by improving the knowledge and skills of horse enthusiasts. It has also been assumed that to improve the provision of information to horse enthusiasts, it is important to explore and gain more insight into horse enthusiasts’ motives, knowl- edge, and behavior. The aim of this exploratory study was to identify the diversity of horse enthusiasts in the Netherlands, with respect to the way they search and find out information, their emotional in- volvement with horses, and their attitude, their knowledge, and daily practices with regard to equine welfare. A Web-based survey using a 30-item questionnaire resulted in 4,267 respondents. Most re- spondents (84.6%) were female; the average age of the respondents was 34.2 (613.5) years. More than half of the respondents (64.5%) believed that there were welfare problems throughout the whole horse industry. The most important reported source for information was the personal contact with other horse enthusiasts (82.8%), with veterinarians (74.5%), and with farriers (69.5%). It is, therefore, recom- mended that to disseminate relevant knowledge on equine welfare, particular attention should be paid to the acquisition and dissemination skills within the education programs of veterinarians and farriers. Although most respondents were aware of the issues that can compromise welfare, their knowledge did not always result in appropriate practices. Furthermore, a cluster analysis showed that horse enthusiasts can be categorized into 4 clusters from the way they search and find out information, their emotional involvement with horses, and their attitude, their knowledge, and daily practices with regard to the welfare of horses. To improve the provision of information to horse enthusiasts, it is recommended that the information provision to horse enthusiasts is organized around these 4 clusters of horse enthusiasts.
Food compensation: do exercise ads change food intake?
Kleef, E. van; Shimizu, M. ; Wansink, B. - \ 2011
International journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity 8 (2011). - ISSN 1479-5868 - 10 p.
physical-activity - social-behavior - self-esteem - healthy - weight - adolescents - validation - activation - mechanisms - children
Background: Past research has shown that promotional messages such as food advertising influence food consumption. However, what has gone largely unexplored is the effect of exercise advertising on food intake. This study experimentally tested the effects of exposure to exercise commercials on food intake at a lunch meal as compared to the effects of control commercials. Methods: Prior to eating lunch, 125 participants (71 women, 54 men) watched 8 commercials, either all related to exercise or fitness (n = 67) or neutral products (i.e. car insurance) (n = 58). The meal consisted of a pasta dish with tomato sauce, salad and chocolate pudding. The post-lunch questionnaire included questions about body mass index, exercise habits, motivation and dietary restraint. Results: Participants exposed to exercise commercials reduced their caloric intake by 21.7% relative to the control condition. Additionally, watching exercise messages increased the perceived healthiness and liking of the meal. Although exercise habits and intentions did not moderate the effect of commercial condition on food intake, we also found that this intake reduction was driven by participants with higher body mass index levels. Conclusions: These results imply that exercise messages may serve as a reminder of the link between food and physical activity and affect food consumption. It also highlights the need for increased awareness that these messages have powerful influences not only on exercise behavior, but also on closely related behaviors such as eating
A meta-analysis of the combined effect of housing and environmental enrichment characteristics on the behaviour and performance of pigs
Averos, X. ; Brossard, L. ; Dourmad, J.Y. ; Greef, K.H. de; Edge, H.L. ; Edwards, S.A. ; Meunier-Salaün, M.C. - \ 2010
Applied Animal Behaviour Science 127 (2010)3-4. - ISSN 0168-1591 - p. 73 - 85.
growing-finishing pigs - fattening pigs - meat quality - growth-performance - space allowance - social-behavior - weaned pigs - deep-litter - group-size - physiological-responses
To quantify the combined effect of housing conditions and environmental enrichment on the behaviour and performance of pigs, a meta-analysis was performed using information from 45 experiments in 42 published manuscripts. Multiple regression models were applied to evaluate the effects of space allowance per pig (k-value; m2/BW0.667), group size (n), floor characteristics (solid, partly, or totally slatted floor), bedding (presence or absence), and the number and presentation sequence of point-source objects (no object, one object, two simultaneous objects, two alternated objects, three or more simultaneous objects or three or more alternated objects) on the general activity, enrichment and object-directed exploratory behaviour, social behaviour, and productive performance. A non-linear relationship between space allowance per pig and time spent sitting and lying was found (P <0.10 and P <0.01 for the k-value and its quadratic term respectively). Total time spent in exploration increased with space allowance per pig when bedding was present (P <0.01), and time spent exploring other pen items decreased with increasing space allowance per pig if no bedding was provided (P <0.001). Total time spent in exploration increased with group size (P <0.001). The lowest predicted total exploration time (least squares mean ± standard error) was found in the absence of bedding and point-source objects (13 ± 3%; P <0.05), and the highest when bedding (18 ± 3%) or point-source objects (19 ± 3%) were present. Time exploring point-source objects was higher when different objects were provided (P <0.001). Suspended (P <0.05) and deformable (P <0.05) enrichment items increased the time spent manipulating them. Time spent exploring point-source objects was predicted to be higher in the absence of slats and bedding (32 ± 6%; P <0.05), and lower when bedding (8 ± 9%) or slats (12 ± 4%) were present. Time engaged in negative social behaviours decreased in the presence of point-source objects (P <0.01), and increased with group size in the absence of bedding (P <0.001). Time engaged in positive social behaviours tended to decrease in the presence of point-source objects (P <0.10), and when space allowance per pig increased in the absence of bedding (P <0.10). Slight trends towards lower FCR were predicted when point-source objects (P <0.10) and bedding (P = 0.10) were present. This information can be utilised in the determination of the general effects of production systems on the welfare of pigs as well as in the development of new production systems.
Welfare assessment in pet rabbits
Schepers, F. ; Koene, P. ; Beerda, B. - \ 2009
Animal Welfare 18 (2009)4. - ISSN 0962-7286 - p. 477 - 485.
oryctolagus-cuniculus - domestic rabbits - caged rabbits - environmental enrichment - laboratory rabbits - social-behavior - wild
One million pet rabbits are kept in The Netherlands, but there are no data available on their behaviour and welfare. This study seeks to assess the welfare of pet rabbits in Dutch households and is a first step in the development of a welfare assessment system. In an internet survey, housing systems, general up-keep and behaviour of pet rabbits were reported by their owners. The answers of 912 respondents were analysed with behavioural observations carried out on 66 rabbits in as many households. The rabbits were observed in their home cage and during three fear-related tests: a contact test, a handling test and an open-field test. The survey revealed that the average lifespan of the rabbits is approximately 4.2 years (the maximum potential lifespan is 13 years) and solitary housing appears to reduce lifespan. Close to half of respondents subjected their rabbit(s) to solitary housing and the majority housed them in relatively small cages (<5,000 cm2). Health risks may arise from a failure to inoculate rabbits and via inappropriate diet. During the contact test, solitary-housed rabbits made more contacts with a human than group-housed rabbits and rabbits in a small housing system made more contacts than those in a large system. Observations in the home cage differed greatly compared with the natural time budget of rabbits, ie displaying increased stereotypic behaviour and decreased foraging and, in solitary-housed rabbits, a complete lack of social behaviour. Nearly 25% of rabbits displayed strong resistance to being picked up, indicating socialisation problems. During the open-field test, solitary-housed rabbits sat up more than social-housed rabbits suggesting increased fearfulness. These findings indicate that the conditions in which pet rabbits are kept often have a negative impact on their welfare, further underlining the need to study this in greater detail
Reconstruction of fig wasp mating structure: how many mothers share a fig?
Zavodna, M. ; Knapp, S.M. ; Compton, S.G. ; Arens, P.F.P. ; Vosman, B. ; Dijk, P.J. ; Gilmartin, P.M. ; Damme, J.M.M. van - \ 2007
Ecological Entomology 32 (2007)5. - ISSN 0307-6946 - p. 485 - 491.
sex-ratios - pollinating wasps - social-behavior - consequences - evolution - oviposition - populations - strategies - allocation - mutualism
1.¿Fig wasps (Hymenoptera: Agaonidae) represent an important model system for studies of sex ratio evolution, mainly because they may adjust their sex ratios in response to the numbers of ovipositing females (foundresses) that enter a fig and their clutch size. 2.¿Until recently, it was assumed that all foundresses fail to re-emerge from the figs that they have entered to oviposit, but there is increasing evidence that such re-emergence may be routine. The common practice of counting the number of dead foundresses present in a fig in order to deduce the number of foundresses is therefore questionable in species where failure to re-emerge has not been confirmed. 3.¿In this study, the alternative approach of microsatellite markers was used to reconstruct the within-fig breeding structure of a pollinating fig wasp by genetic analysis of the offspring. Broods of Liporrhopalum tentacularis, a species where foundresses regularly re-emerge from figs, were collected from figs of Ficus montana in their natural habitat in Indonesia as well as from an experimental glasshouse population in Leeds (U.K.). 4.¿The estimated foundress densities in the glasshouse population were similar to those in the field and ranged from one to six foundresses per brood. 5.¿Nearly 40% of all broods were produced by a single foundress, indicating that mating in these broods occurs exclusively between full siblings. High levels of inbreeding are therefore common in this species.
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