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Open Access Effects of Human Management Events on Conspecific Aggression in Captive Rhesus Macaques (Macaca mulatta)

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Conspecific aggression in outdoor-housed rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) at primate research facilities is a leading source of trauma and can potentially influence animal wellbeing and research quality. Although aggression between macaques is a normal part of daily social interactions, human presence might affect the frequency of various behaviors and instigate increases in conspecific aggression. We sought to determine how and which human management events affect conspecific aggression both immediately after an event and throughout the course of a day. From June 2008 through December 2009, we recorded agonistic encounters among macaques living in 7 social groups in large outdoor field cages. Behavioral data were then synchronized with specific management events (for example, feeding, enclosure cleaning, animal catching) that occurred within or near the enclosure. By using an Information Theoretical approach, 2 generalized linear mixed models were developed to estimate the effects of human management events on 1) aggression after individual management events and 2) daily levels of aggression. Univariate analysis revealed an increase in the rate of aggression after a management event occurred. The best predictor of aggression in a cage was the type of management event that occurred. Various factors including the number of daily management events, the total time of management events, the technicians involved, reproductive season, and their interactions also showed significant associations with daily aggression levels. Our findings demonstrate that human management events are associated with an increase in conspecific aggression between rhesus macaques and thus have implications regarding how humans manage primates in research facilities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, Department of Comparative Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, California;, Email: [email protected] 2: Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, Brain, Mind, and Behavior Unit, California National Primate Research Center, University of California, Davis 3: Masters of Preventive Veterinary Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, Davis, California

Publication date: March 1, 2017

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  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

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