Variation in reproductive success across captive populations: Methodological differences, potential biases and opportunities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Our understanding of fundamental organismal biology has been disproportionately influenced by studies of a relatively small number of ‘model’ species extensively studied in captivity. Laboratory populations of model species are commonly subject to a number of forms of past and current selection that may affect experimental outcomes. Here, we examine these processes and their outcomes in one of the most widely used vertebrate species in the laboratory – the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata). This important model species is used for research across a broad range of fields, partly due to the ease with which it can be bred in captivity. However despite this perceived amenability, we demonstrate extensive variation in the success with which different laboratories and studies bred their subjects, and overall only 64% of all females that were given the opportunity, bred successfully in the laboratory. We identify and review several environmental, husbandry, life-history and behavioural factors that potentially contribute to this variation. The variation in reproductive success across individuals could lead to biases in experimental outcomes and drive some of the heterogeneity in research outcomes across studies. The zebra finch remains an excellent captive animal system and our aim is to sharpen the insight that future studies of this species can provide, both to our understanding of this species and also with respect to the reproduction of captive animals more widely. We hope to improve systematic reporting methods and that further investigation of the issues we raise will lead both to advances in our fundamental understanding of avian reproduction as well as to improvements in future welfare and experimental efficiency.

Details

Authors
  • Simon C. Griffith
  • Ondi L. Crino
  • Samuel C. Andrew
  • Fumiaki Y. Nomano
  • Elizabeth Adkins-Regan
  • Carlos Alonso-Alvarez
  • Ida E. Bailey
  • Stephanie S. Bittner
  • Peri E. Bolton
  • Winnie Boner
  • Neeltje Boogert
  • Ingrid C.A. Boucaud
  • Michael Briga
  • Katherine L. Buchanan
  • Barbara A. Caspers
  • Mariusz Cichón
  • David F. Clayton
  • Wolfgang Forstmeier
  • Sebastien Derégnaucourt
  • Lauren M. Guillette
  • Ian R. Hartley
  • Susan D. Healy
  • Davina L. Hill
  • Marie-Jeanne Holveck
  • Laura L. Hurley
  • Malika Ihle
  • E. Tobias Krause
  • Mark C. Mainwaring
  • Valeria Marasco
  • Mylene M. Mariette
  • Meghan S. Martin-Wintle
  • Luke S.C. McCowan
  • Maeve McMahon
  • Pat Monaghan
  • Ruedi G. Nager
  • Marc Naguib
  • Dominique A. Potvin
  • Nora H. Prior
  • Katharina Riebel
  • Ana A. Romero-Haro
  • Nick J. Royle
  • Joanna Rutowska
  • Wiebke Schuett
  • John P. Swaddle
  • Larissa Trompf
  • Claire W. Varian-Ramos
  • Clémentine Vignal
  • Avelyne S. Villain
  • Tony D. Williams
Organisations
External organisations
  • Macquarie University, Sydney
  • Cornell University
  • CSIC National Museum Of Natural Sciences (MNCN)
  • University of St Andrews
  • Arizona State University
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Lyon
  • University of Groningen
  • Deakin University, Geelong
  • Bielefeld University
  • Jagellonian University
  • Queen Mary University
  • Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology
  • Paris Nanterre University
  • Lancaster University
  • Leiden University
  • PDXWildlife, Portland
  • Wageningen University
  • University of Western Ontario
  • University of British Columbia
  • Institute of Game and Wildlife Research
  • University of Exeter
  • College of William and Mary
  • Simon Fraser University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Natural Sciences
  • Zoology
  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Behavioral Sciences Biology

Keywords

  • Taeniopygia guttata , captive breeding, zebra finch, reproductive failure, domestication, captivity, husbandry, model species
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages30
JournalEthology
Volume123
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes