Anxiety in Relation to Animal Environment and Welfare

  • Amber R Salomons Division of Laboratory Animal Science, Department of Animals, Science and Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University
  • Saskia Simon Arndt Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience
  • Frauke Ohl Division of Laboratory Animal Science, Department of Animals, Science and Society, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University

Abstract

Negative emotions do not compromise welfare, as long as they do not exceed the individual’s adaptive  capabilities. Anxiety, though a negative emotion, is highly conserved during evolution, and essential for  enabling an individual to both escape from dangerous situations and to avoid them in the future, i.e. to adapt  to environmental challenges. However, the interactions between anxiety and environment are highly dynamic  and can result in non-adaptive anxiety responses. Non-adaptive anxiety responses not only compromise the  animal’s welfare, but may be substantially detrimental to experimental results even in non-behavioural  studies by dramatically reducing the reliability of the study results obtained. Detailed knowledge about the  emotional phenotype of experimental animals used is necessary to reach a balance between reliability of  experimental research and the welfare of laboratory animals. 

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