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J Comp Psychol. 2004 Dec;118(4):434-46.

Interplay between environmental and genetic factors in temperament/personality traits in horses (Equus caballus).

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Ethologie-Evolution-Ecologie, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France.


The aim of the present study was to broach the question of the relative influence of different genetic and environmental factors on different temperament/personality traits of horses (Equus caballus). The researchers submitted 702 horses to standardized experimental tests and investigated 9 factors, either genetic or environmental. Genetic factors, such as sire or breed, seemed to influence more neophobic reactions, whereas environmental factors, such as the type of work, seemed to play a more dominant role in reactions to social separation or learning abilities. Additive effects were evident, showing how environmental factors may modulate behavioral traits. This study constitutes a first step toward understanding the relative weights of genetic factors and how the environment may intervene in determining individual behavioral characteristics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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