Date of Award

8-2017

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

B. Katherine Smith, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Abstract

Continuously refining husbandry strategies to improve the welfare of captive primates is a research priority. A variety of enrichment strategies are employed to allow captive primates opportunities to exercise natural behaviors with the aim of maintaining their psychological health in environments different from those for which they evolved. Arguably the most important of these strategies is social housing, since primates are by definition social animals. Pair housing is often the most logistically feasible method; however, the process of introducing partners to each other comes with risks of stressful conflict that may result in injury, and the necessarily trial-and-error nature of finding matches can take considerable time. The present study assigned personality categories to individual Garnett’s Greater Bushbabies (Otolemur garnettii) according to a battery of assessments. The subjects were assigned partners, and the pairs engaged in trials where they were in close contact, sharing a space separated by cage mesh; in the absence of aggression after a period of acclimation, the pairs were said to have passed, while persistently aggressive pairs failed the test. Statistical significance was not achieved, but similarity in one or more personality traits between partners seemed to predict success, as did low neophobia scores and high affiliative behavior towards human caretakers in one or both partners. Activity level and tendency to engage in stereotypic behavior did not indicate success or failure. Personality traits assigned by standardized behavioral tests may aid in predicting successful primate pairs, saving considerable time and stress and facilitating captive primate welfare.

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