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Title Welfare Assessment Through Foraging: Understanding the Animals' Points of View
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
University/Publisher University of Illinois – Chicago
Abstract As a behavioral ecologist, I implement studies based in foraging theory and ecology to develop a quantifiable metric to understand animal environmental preferences, and how those preferences influence animal decision-making. I utilized this approach in laboratory, zoo, and wild species, and each of my five dissertation chapters investigates a novel application and integration of foraging ecology and animal behavior. Chapter I: I utilized foraging ecology principles to determine effects of domestication on the problem-solving and foraging strategies of laboratory vs. wild-caught house mice (Mus musculus). Domesticated laboratory strains adopted more energy-efficient foraging strategies, and responded more favorably to foraging challenges than their wild counterparts (Troxell-Smith et. al, 2016). This study advanced existing literature regarding how the domestication process influences problem-solving and resource acquisition in laboratory species. Chapter II: I assessed the environmental preferences of zoo-housed okapi (Okapia johnstoni). Based on intensity of foraging in experimental patches, I found that individuals greatly varied their response to, and utilization of, the same exhibit space. I conclude that individual behavioral differences in environmental preference must be incorporated into animal management and welfare decisions. Chapter III: I implemented foraging patch studies to: a) quantify the efficacy of patch use studies as an enrichment opportunity, and b) determine the spatial and foraging preferences for zoo-housed Parma wallabies (Macropus parma), and Patagonian maras (Dolichotis patagonum). Food patches reliably revealed environmental preferences, increased foraging time, and decreased the frequency of inactive behaviors for both species, demonstrating the utility of implementing the food patch technique as a method to assess captive animal welfare. Chapter IV: I examined the effects of implementing social separation (visual barriers) on stereotypic behavior in an adult female okapi (Troxell-Smith & Miller, 2016). Visual barrier installation drastically reduced okapi stereotypic behavior, suggesting that captive social situations have important impacts on animal welfare. Chapter V: I established personality metrics for ten individual brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) in the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, NSW, Australia. Possums were released and monitored to determine individual differences in food quality preference and response to environmental risk. This work advances understanding of how individual personality traits influence environmental and ecological choices.
Subjects/Keywords Behavioral Ecology; Animal Welfare; Foraging Ecology; Giving-up Density; Behavioral Enrichment; Zoo-housed species; Exhibit use; Landscape of comfort
Contributors Brown, Joel S. (advisor); Whelan, Christopher J. (committee member); Leonard, John (committee member); Schmidt, Jennifer (committee member); Nelson, Karin (committee member); Watters, Jason V. (committee member)
Language en
Rights Copyright 2016 Sandra M. Troxell-Smith
Country of Publication us
Record ID handle:10027/21246
Repository uic
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2019-12-17
Issued Date 2016-10-18 00:00:00

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