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      Does Environmental Enrichment Reduce Stress? An Integrated Measure of Corticosterone from Feathers Provides a Novel Perspective

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          Abstract

          Enrichment is widely used as tool for managing fearfulness, undesirable behaviors, and stress in captive animals, and for studying exploration and personality. Inconsistencies in previous studies of physiological and behavioral responses to enrichment led us to hypothesize that enrichment and its removal are stressful environmental changes to which the hormone corticosterone and fearfulness, activity, and exploration behaviors ought to be sensitive. We conducted two experiments with a captive population of wild-caught Clark's nutcrackers ( Nucifraga columbiana) to assess responses to short- (10-d) and long-term (3-mo) enrichment, their removal, and the influence of novelty, within the same animal. Variation in an integrated measure of corticosterone from feathers, combined with video recordings of behaviors, suggests that how individuals perceive enrichment and its removal depends on the duration of exposure. Short- and long-term enrichment elicited different physiological responses, with the former acting as a stressor and birds exhibiting acclimation to the latter. Non-novel enrichment evoked the strongest corticosterone responses of all the treatments, suggesting that the second exposure to the same objects acted as a physiological cue, and that acclimation was overridden by negative past experience. Birds showed weak behavioral responses that were not related to corticosterone. By demonstrating that an integrated measure of glucocorticoid physiology varies significantly with changes to enrichment in the absence of agonistic interactions, our study sheds light on potential mechanisms driving physiological and behavioral responses to environmental change.

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          Physiological stress in ecology: lessons from biomedical research.

          Increasingly, levels of the 'stress hormones' cortisol and corticosterone are being used by ecologists as indicators of physiological stress in wild vertebrates. The amplitude of hormonal response is assumed to correlate with the overall health of an animal and, by extension, the health of the population. However, much of what is known about the physiology of stress has been elucidated by the biomedical research community. I summarize five physiological mechanisms that regulate hormone release during stress that should be useful to ecologists and conservationists. Incorporating these physiological mechanisms into the design and interpretation of ecological studies will make these increasingly popular studies of stress in ecological settings more rigorous.
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            Endocrinology of the stress response.

            The stress response is subserved by the stress system, which is located both in the central nervous system and the periphery. The principal effectors of the stress system include corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH); arginine vasopressin; the proopiomelanocortin-derived peptides alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone and beta-endorphin, the glucocorticoids; and the catecholamines norepinephrine and epinephrine. Appropriate responsiveness of the stress system to stressors is a crucial prerequisite for a sense of well-being, adequate performance of tasks, and positive social interactions. By contrast, inappropriate responsiveness of the stress system may impair growth and development and may account for a number of endocrine, metabolic, autoimmune, and psychiatric disorders. The development and severity of these conditions primarily depend on the genetic vulnerability of the individual, the exposure to adverse environmental factors, and the timing of the stressful events, given that prenatal life, infancy, childhood, and adolescence are critical periods characterized by increased vulnerability to stressors.
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              SAS for Mixed Models

              The indispensable, up-to-date guide to mixed models using SAS®. Discover the latest capabilities available for a variety of applications featuring the MIXED, GLIMMIX, and NLMIXED procedures in this valuable edition of the comprehensive mixed models guide for data analysis, completely revised and updated for SAS®9. The theory underlying the models, the forms of the models for various applications, and a wealth of examples from different fields of study are integrated in the discussions of these models: random effect only and random coefficients models split-plot, multilocation, and repeated measures models hierarchical models with nested random effects analysis of covariance models spatial correlation models generalized linear mixed models nonlinear mixed models Professionals and students with a background in two-way ANOVA and regression and a basic knowledge of linear models and matrix algebra will benefit from the topics covered. Includes a free CD-ROM with example SAS code!
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Role: Editor
                Journal
                PLoS One
                plos
                plosone
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                1932-6203
                2011
                11 March 2011
                : 6
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
                Semmelweis University, Hungary
                Author notes

                Conceived and designed the experiments: GDF GRB. Performed the experiments: GDF MDF JFR IS. Analyzed the data: GDF GRB MDF. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: GRB DMK. Wrote the paper: GDF GRB.

                [¤]

                Current address: Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

                Article
                PONE-D-10-05749
                10.1371/journal.pone.0017663
                3055884
                21412426
                47aa1124-47b7-4a6d-ad90-906828e7f14b
                Fairhurst et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
                Page count
                Pages: 10
                Categories
                Research Article
                Agriculture
                Animal Management
                Animal Welfare
                Biology
                Anatomy and Physiology
                Endocrine System
                Endocrine Physiology
                Hormones
                Ecology
                Behavioral Ecology
                Ecophysiology
                Zoology
                Ornithology
                Medicine
                Mental Health
                Psychology
                Psychological Stress
                Social and Behavioral Sciences
                Psychology
                Psychological Stress

                Uncategorized
                Uncategorized

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