Describing Temperament in an Ungulate: A Multidimensional ApproachReport as inadecuate

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Studies on animal temperament have often described temperament using a one-dimensional scale, whereas theoretical framework has recently suggested two or more dimensions using terms like -valence- or -arousal- to describe these dimensions. Yet, the valence or assessment of a situation is highly individual. The aim of this study was to provide support for the multidimensional framework with experimental data originating from an economically important species Bos taurus. We tested 361 calves at 90 days post natum dpn in a novel-object test. Using a principal component analysis PCA, we condensed numerous behaviours into fewer variables to describe temperament and correlated these variables with simultaneously measured heart rate variability HRV data. The PCA resulted in two behavioural dimensions principal components, PC: novel-object-related PC 1 and exploration-activity-related PC 2. These PCs explained 58% of the variability in our data. The animals were distributed evenly within the two behavioural dimensions independent of their sex. Calves with different scores in these PCs differed significantly in HRV, and thus in the autonomous nervous system’s activity. Based on these combined behavioural and physiological data we described four distinct temperament types resulting from two behavioural dimensions: -neophobic-fearful – alert- -interested – stressed- -subdued-uninterested – calm-, and -neoophilic-outgoing – alert-. Additionally, 38 calves were tested at 90 and 197 dpn. Using the same PCA-model, they correlated significantly in PC 1 and tended to correlate in PC 2 between the two test ages. Of these calves, 42% expressed a similar behaviour pattern in both dimensions and 47% in one. No differences in temperament scores were found between sexes or breeds. In conclusion, we described distinct temperament types in calves based on behavioural and physiological measures emphasising the benefits of a multidimensional approach.

Author: Katharina L. Graunke, Gerd Nürnberg, Dirk Repsilber, Birger Puppe, Jan Langbein



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