ABS 2022
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The Effects of a Change in Dietary Protein on Personality in Young Cockerels
Jessica S. Stamn, Richard Buchholz. University of Mississippi, Oxford, MS, United States

There is growing evidence that an animal’s personality can affect its overall fitness, and is quickly becoming a focus in the field of conservation biology. Despite this, the mechanisms of personality development are still relatively unknown. Recent literature suggests that the natal environment of an individual, such as nutrition, may play a role in establishing consistent behavioral tendencies. To investigate how nutrition might affect personality development, we evaluated how varying dietary protein levels of domestic fowl chicks influenced boldness across different contexts. We measured the boldness expression of each chick by testing behavioral responses to a novel “predator”, exploration of a novel arena, and time in tonic immobility. We then ranked the chicks according to their boldness scores, grouped the chicks into a high-protein and a low-protein diet group, and retested the chicks for boldness. Our results indicate that the natal diet protein content of domestic fowl chicks does not have an effect on the development of personality. However, future research is warranted in order to better understand the proximate factors that might influence how personality develops.