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January 3 - Febuary 28, 2021

Meeting Abstract

P15-1  Sat Jan 2  Examining neophobia and startle behavior in response to nutritional stress during development Musulman, AM*; Coutts, VM; Wada, H; Auburn University ; Auburn University; Auburn University

Animals respond and cope with stressors by eliciting physiological and behavioral responses. Much research on stress responses has focused on physiological responses while behavioral responses to a stressor are relatively understudied. Furthermore, young animals whose neural and physiological systems are undergoing development and maturation are most susceptible to stressors, yet long-term effects of developmental stressors on behavior are largely unknown. Using zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) as a model organism, we tested how nutritional stress during development may be linked to neophobia and startle behavior later in life. Control and nutritional stress nests were paired together in order to determine the amount of food the stress nests received. Control nests had ad libitum access to seeds while stress nests received 65% of the seed consumed by their paired control nest to induce nutritional stress. Treatment was given from 5 to 60 dph, and behavioral trials were conducted between 97 and 117 dph. For object neophobia, birds were placed in individual cages and recorded interacting with two different objects attached to their food bowl, with a plain food bowl to measure their response without a novel object. Videos were then analyzed for latency to approach 3.5 cm from the food bowl, the food bowl, and to feed. For the startle test, birds were given a plain food bowl for 15 seconds, then a hand was placed into each individual cage and immediately removed to startle the birds (approximately 1 second). The latency to feed after startle was analyzed. In the startle test, nutritionally stressed females had a significantly higher latency to feed than control females, with no effect in males. Currently, the rest of the videos are being analyzed for latency measurements.