Fear-Related Behaviour in Two Mouse Strains Differing in Litter Size

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The present experiment compared the fear-related behaviour of a mouse strain selected over 101 generations for high litter size with that of a randomly selected strain. The H-strain, selected for large litter size, has a mean (± SD) litter size at birth of 21.5 ± 3.5 pups. The randomly bred C-strain has a mean (± SD) litter size of 9.6 ± 2.2 pups. The elevated plus-maze, the light:dark test and a resident:intruder test were used to measure how the mice responded to novelty. In the elevated plus-maze, a well-validated model of animal anxiety, the H-strain was significantly more anxious (having a lower percentage of entries into open arms) than the C-strain at 9 weeks of age. In the light:dark test, in which the light levels were similar to those in the home environment, the H-strain did not differ significantly from the C-strain in its avoidance of the brightest area. In the resident:intruder test, where aggression-trained, older H-strain males were the residents, 11-week-old intruding mice of the C-strain spent a higher percentage of their time in flight and immobility than intruders of the H-strain. There were clear anxiety- and fear-related differences between the strains, which may be related to their selection history. The results illustrate a need for further studies on the consequences of selection for increased production for the ability of animals to adapt to their home environment and cope with environmental changes.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2000

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