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Enclosure Background Preferences Differ between Sexes and Color Morphs in the Gouldian Finch

Moise, R, Eccles, G and Mettke-Hofmann, C (2023) Enclosure Background Preferences Differ between Sexes and Color Morphs in the Gouldian Finch. Animals, 13 (8). ISSN 2076-2615

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13081353 (published)


Most wild animals camouflage well into their environment, providing protection from predators, whereas captive animals often contrast with their background. This can cause stress for the animal, which may perceive it as being exposed. Theory suggests that prey is more difficult to detect in front of complex backgrounds; hence, animals should prefer complex over simple backgrounds. We tested this in the polymorphic Gouldian finch by providing a complex background pattern in one half of the flight cage and a simple background pattern in the other half for 10 days (phase 1). Patterns
were then swapped and presented for another week (phase 2). Groups of four birds consisting of either pure black-headed or red-headed or mixed head color (two black-headed and two redheaded) pairings were tested. Gouldian finches spent significantly more time in front of the simple background in phase 1
but not in phase 2. Specifically, females preferred the simple background in phase 1 significantly more than males. Moreover, red-headed birds consistently perched in front of the simple background, whereas black-headed birds used both backgrounds, particularly in phase 2. Results indicate that background preferences differ between sexes and morphs, which should be
considered when designing backgrounds. Moreover, natural habitat preferences need consideration.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: background matching; camouflage; animal welfare; exploration; neophilia; colour polymorphism; 0502 Environmental Science and Management; 0608 Zoology; 0702 Animal Production
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: MDPI AG
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2023 14:36
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2023 14:36
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/ani13081353
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19380
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