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Biol Lett. 2015 Sep;11(9):20150509. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2015.0509.

Is domestication driven by reduced fear of humans? Boldness, metabolism and serotonin levels in divergently selected red junglefowl (Gallus gallus).

Author information

1
IFM Biology, AVIAN Behaviour Genomics and Physiology Group, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.
2
IFM Biology, AVIAN Behaviour Genomics and Physiology Group, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden perje@ifm.liu.se.

Abstract

Domesticated animals tend to develop a coherent set of phenotypic traits. Tameness could be a central underlying factor driving this, and we therefore selected red junglefowl, ancestors of all domestic chickens, for high or low fear of humans during six generations. We measured basal metabolic rate (BMR), feed efficiency, boldness in a novel object (NO) test, corticosterone reactivity and basal serotonin levels (related to fearfulness) in birds from the fifth and sixth generation of the high- and low-fear lines, respectively (44-48 individuals). Corticosterone response to physical restraint did not differ between selection lines. However, BMR was higher in low-fear birds, as was feed efficiency. Low-fear males had higher plasma levels of serotonin and both low-fear males and females were bolder in an NO test. The results show that many aspects of the domesticated phenotype may have developed as correlated responses to reduced fear of humans, an essential trait for successful domestication.

KEYWORDS:

domestication; genetics; stress

PMID:
26382075
PMCID:
PMC4614427
DOI:
10.1098/rsbl.2015.0509
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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