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Testing optimal methods to compare horse postures using geometric morphometrics

Abstract : The study of animal behavior, especially regarding welfare, needs the development of tools to identify, quantify and compare animal postures with interobserver reliability. While most studies subjectively describe animal postures, or quantify only limited parts of the body, the usage of geometric morphometrics has allowed for the description of horses’ and pigs’ upper body outline and the comparison of postures from different populations thanks to robust statistical analysis. We have attempted here to optimize the geometric morphometrics (GM) method already used in horses by introducing the outline analysis with sliding semilandmarks (SSL), by eliminating the balance movement of the neck and by focusing only on parts of the upper line. For this purpose, photographs of 85 horses from 11 riding schools, known for differing in terms of housing and working conditions, were analyzed with previous and new GM methods and these results were compared with each other. Using SSL and eliminating the neck movement appeared to better discriminate the horse populations than the previous GM method. Study of parts of the dorsum proved efficient too. This new methodology should now be used to examine if posture could be an indicator of horse welfare state, and similar studies should be performed in other species in order to validate the same methodology.
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Emilie Sénèque, Stéphane Morisset, Clémence Lesimple, Martine Hausberger. Testing optimal methods to compare horse postures using geometric morphometrics. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2018, 13 (10), pp.e0204208. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0204208⟩. ⟨hal-01917901⟩



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