Foraging and exploratory behaviour in Red Junglefowl (Gallus gallus) selected for fear of humans
Domestication is a process in which animals become adapted to a life among humans by means of selection. A reduced fear of humans is probably one of the first aims of selection, intentionally or unintentionally. Animals that have undergone the process of domestication have a different appearance than animals in the wild (domestic phenotype) and behave in a different way towards humans. In this study I have looked at foraging and explorative behaviours in an unselected parental generation of red junglefowl and their offspring. The parental generation were bred in three lines, a high line, with birds displaying a strong fear of humans, an intermediate line, birds showing a modest fear, and one low line, with birds performing a more tame behaviour towards humans. I presented the birds with three different feeding alternatives, familiar chicken food, meal worms camouflaged with wood shavings and just wood shavings. I counted number of pecks in the different food options, number of changes between sites and how many sites a bird visited. The results show that females of both generations were more explorative than males, by pecking more in cups of meal worms hidden in wood shavings whereas the males pecked more in cups containing chicken food. Females also moved around more in the arena. Results from the first selected generation show significant differences between the selection lines among the females, with females from the high and low groups being the most explorative.
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Last updated: 05/19/10