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  • Andrew MacIntosh

Animal Behavior Twitter Conference 2023 #AnimBehav2023 @asab_tweets

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

This was my first time presenting something on Twitter! I gotta say, it was fun, but I hope to generate more interest next time...


Title: The life zooentropic: leveraging complexity for zoo animal welfare

Author List: MACINTOSH AJJ, CHEN P, XU Z, GOTO Y, HAYASHI M, AKAMI R, WATANUKI K, YAMANASHI Y

Affiliations: Kyoto University, Japan Monkey Centre, Kyoto City Zoo

Twitter Abstract (280 characters): Complexity is a signature of life, and inherent in animal behavior. But can too much or too little complexity in animal behavior indicate poor health and welfare? Project Zooentropy is testing that very thing, adding to the toolkit to assess and improve zoo animal welfare.

Abstract (1000 characters): Complexity in, complexity out. Animal behavior emerges from a complex suite of evolutionary and ecological forces. Some view behavior as a complex adaptive system optimized for (or against) biological encounters, where alterations between behavior states produce complex, nonlinear dynamics. Critically, patterns of complexity in individual behavior vary with environmental and internal conditions. We thus explored behavior sequences in zoo-housed brown capuchins (Sapajus apella) at Kyoto City Zoo and Japan Monkey Centre to test whether this approach can provide a useful behavioral indicator of animal health and housing conditions. We focus on two classes of complexity indicators – entropy and fractality – and demonstrate that complexity signatures correlate significantly with other key welfare indicators, like frequency of stereotypical behavior. This proof-of-concept study provides preliminary evidence for the utility of leveraging complexity for zoo animal welfare assessment.


Twitter Thread

0/6 Complexity is a signature of life & inherent in animal behavior. But can too much or too little complexity signal poor health or welfare? Project Zooentropy is testing that very thing, adding to the toolkit to assess and improve zoo animal welfare. #AnimBehav2023 @zooentropy

1/6 Managing the welfare of animals in our care is one of the great moral challenges of our time. Action requires assessment, but what should we assess? For any given species, there may be innumerable metrics in play, complicating interpretation. #AnimBehav2023

2/6 Lessons from the wild often guide our interpretations and actions. Tackling complexity is the next great frontier of behavioral ecological research [1]. Incidentally, behavioral complexity degrades in stress and disease and can be used as a bioindicator [2-4]. #AnimBehav2023

3/6 Animals produce unique and persistent behavior time series which can also signal stress or disease. We ran a proof-of-concept study to verify if fractality and entropy in behavior correlated with frequency of stereotypies in brown capuchins at Kyoto City Zoo. #AnimBehav2023

4/6 Stereotypical behavior – like the cage circling and head rolling seen in these brown capuchins at Kyoto City Zoo – is an indication that environmental conditions are not optimal. But a goal is to assess and act before such manifestations emerge. #AnimBehav2023

5/6 We find that fractal and entropic patterns in behavior time series correlate with stereotypy frequency across and within individuals. A future goal is to find out whether changes in these complex aspects of behavior can also predict the onset of stereotypy. #AnimBehav2023

6/6 Complexity and variability are hallmarks of wild animal behavior, and the environments in which they live. Targeting complexity for animals in artificial environments like those in zoos may be a way forward in animal welfare assessment and management. #AnimBehav2023

Appendix 1 Bonus Material: Visit us at https://www.zooentropy.net and check out a trailer for this project and a call to action in this animated short produced by our team and @SciAni #AnimBehav2023 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAcfC09g-HI

Appendix 2 References: [1] Bradbury & Vehrencamp, 2014; [2] MacIntosh, 2014; [3] Rutherford, 2004; [4] Asher et al., 2009 #AnimBehav2023

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