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Incubation temperature affects the expression of young precocial birds’ fear-related behaviours and neuroendocrine correlates

Abstract : The influence of embryonic microclimate on the behavioural development of birds remains unexplored. In this study, we experimentally tested whether chronic exposure to suboptimal temperatures engendered plasticity in the expression of fear-related behaviours and in the expression of the corticotropin-releasing factor in the brains of domestic chicks (Gallus g. domesticus). We compared the neurobehavioural phenotypes of a control group of chicks incubated in an optimal thermal environment (37.8 °C) with those of a group of experimental chicks exposed chronically in ovo to suboptimal temperatures (27.2 °C for 1 hour twice a day). Chronic exposure to a suboptimal temperature delayed hatching and decreased growth rate and experimental chicks had higher neophobic responses than controls in novel food and novel environment tests. In addition, experimental chicks showed higher expression of corticotropin-releasing factor than did controls in nuclei of the amygdala, a structure involved in the regulation of fear-related behaviours. In this study, we report the first evidence of the strong but underappreciated role of incubation microclimate on the development of birds’ behaviour and its neurobiological correlates.
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Aline Bertin, Ludovic Calandreau, Maryse Meurisse, Marion Georgelin, Rupert Palme, et al.. Incubation temperature affects the expression of young precocial birds’ fear-related behaviours and neuroendocrine correlates. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2018, 8 (1), pp.1857 - 1857. ⟨10.1038/s41598-018-20319-y⟩. ⟨hal-01698022⟩

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