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The effects of environmental enrichment on abnormal repetitive behaviour in American mink

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Title: The effects of environmental enrichment on abnormal repetitive behaviour in American mink
Author: Dallaire, Jamie
Department: Department of Animal and Poultry Science
Advisor: Mason, Georgia
Abstract: Environmental enrichment reduces abnormal repetitive behaviour (ARB) in captive animals, but typically with only partial success. This thesis investigated why by testing hypotheses about the mechanisms underlying ARB and enrichment use. Following transfer from non-enriched to enriched housing, adult female American mink, 'Neovison vison', spent less time performing ARB. Recurrent perseveration, a type of behavioural disinhibition, predicted abnormal repetitive locomotion (ARL) in both housing conditions, yet was unaffected by enrichment. Behavioural disinhibition thus need not be dysfunctional to affect ARB in captive animals. Responses to enrichment were heterogeneous. Individuals who rarely performed ARL, in non-enriched housing, later manipulated enrichments extensively. Formerly high-ARL mink instead became highly inactive, resting preferentially in elevated areas of the enriched habitat. Different individuals thus used environmental enrichments in contrasting, sometimes unexpected, ways. To understand how enrichment eliminates ARB, future researchers should therefore begin by determining how individual enrichments are used, and which actually reduce ARB.
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10214/20536
Date: 2011
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