Dr. Alexandra Harlander is looking for an enthusiastic undergraduate student to work for at least 16 weeks (35 hours per week) on her project “PHYSIOLOGICAL FACTORS UNDERLYING ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR IN DOMESTIC BIRDS”.
The details of the project are as follows:
This project aims at investigating the role of central serotonergic activity in the development of oral-repetitive behaviour (feather pecking) in laying hens and analysing possible effects of this system on impulsivity or the lack of behavioural control.
We will therefore investigate how different levels of availability of the serotonin (5-HT) precursor tryptophan affect behaviour of two distinct phenotypes of layers (high and low feather pecking lines). Testing in an operant chamber, as well as assessment of differences in the baselines of bird-to-bird pecking/feather-pecking behaviour, video monitoring under normal housing conditions will therefore be performed.
In order to test the influence of 5-HT, the two distinct phenotypes of high and low feather peckers will undergo treatments that deplete their system of 5-HT precursor tryptophan by Acute Tryptophan Depletion (ATD), in order to achieve a decrease in central serotonergic activity. It is hypothesized that if 5-HT plays a crucial role in the development and severity of oral repetitive behaviour, the resulting effects will be intensified by ATD- treatment.
Also, as previously shown in rats, mice and humans, individuals suffering from a serotonin related dysfunction e.g. attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome (in our case the high feather pecking line), will be more susceptible to ATD treatment than healthy controls. This project will therefore contribute to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of feather-pecking behaviour, will help to clarify the role of 5-HT and will potentially give rise to view feather pecking as a model for oral- repetitive behaviours in other species.
Please submit cover letter and resume by EMAIL only to Dr. Alexander Harlander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline: Friday, February 12, 2016
Note: Only applicants of interest will be contacted.
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