NPRC Behavioral Management Consortium
The goals of the Behavioral Management Consortium are to enhance animal welfare through the dedicated efforts of a group of behavioral scientists who work to monitor and improve the welfare of nonhuman primates involved in research. Animal welfare is enhanced by the consistent application of proven behavioral management techniques and this is integral to the development of NHP research models. The National Primate Research Centers’ Behavioral Management Consortium (BMC) is comprised of the behavioral scientists responsible for directing the behavioral management programs at each of the NPRCs. The goal of the BMC is to establish a national and international resource regarding behavioral management best practices and recommendations. The BMC supports the NPRC primate resource by promoting normative behavior and psychological well-being. The development of standardized terminology and assessment tools has facilitated cross-facility behavioral management research. Through our information sharing and assessments we aim to develop consensus on enrichment and other behavioral management strategies. Listed below are links to assessment tools and publications.
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NPRC Behavioral Management Resources
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View the latest work by members of the Behavioral Management Consortium.
Documentation of introduction procedures and defining outcomes of introductions of pairs or small groups of caged NHPs
Detailed documentation of individual introductions is crucial for refining social introduction methodology. The purpose for the BMC’s documentation template is to promote the standardization of information obtained when introductions are conducted. Key to the utility of standardized records is a common definition of introduction success. We aim to assist facilities in developing records that will enable them to perform systematic in-house retrospective assessments. In addition, standardized records can be combined across facilities to form databases for cross-facility analyses. The complexity of various introduction processes (Truelove et al. 2015; Baker, 2016), as well as the individual differences of the animals and practices involved, are best addressed using data collected across facilities in order to exploit the differences in practices. The database will improve our understanding of social introductions and enable us to take multifactorial approaches to analysis.
Social Group Ethogram
Primates are naturally social animals. Depending on the species, group size in the wild can vary from monogamous pairs and family units to large troops of over 100 individuals. Social contact allows for the expression of species-typical behavior and is important for fostering normal development. Therefore, meeting the social needs of nonhuman primates in captivity is essential for promoting their welfare.
The BMC alopecia scoring system is a straightforward method of evaluating the degree of alopecia on nonhuman primates.
Abnormal behavior ethogram
Abnormal behavior in captive nonhuman primates is often used as an indicator of wellbeing, either past or present. Improved understanding of these behaviors will better enable their prevention and treatment. Because some of these behaviors are rare, pooling information across facilities is extremely valuable for determining its prevalence, risk factors, causes, and treatment. A standardized ethogram that can be utilized across facilities is therefore necessary in order to facilitate collaborative research.
The self-injurious behavior (SIB) scoring system is a method for categorizing bouts of SIB. Because SIB is uncommon, pooling information across facilities in a consistent manner is extremely valuable for determining its prevalence, risk factors, causes, and treatment. This scoring system is a 5-point scale with two categories for non-injurious incidents and three for wounding events. The latter categories are based on the severity of the wound (i.e., mild, moderate, severe).
Factors leading to use of single housing
There are a handful of regulatory exemptions and exceptions from the use of social housing. As detailed in the Animal Welfare Act, single housing is permissible only when an animal is deemed overly aggressive, is debilitated, has or is suspected of having a contagious disease, or is exempted because of health condition or scientific requirements approved by the local Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (USDA 2013, p. 100-101). In practice, here are numerous other situations, often transient, that could lead to single housing, including lack of compatible partners and need for information about viral status. It is important to capture this information because of its regulatory importance and because social housing is a key factor in supporting wellbeing. The identification of factors can guide a facility toward identifying additional opportunities for social housing that can be addressed if practical challenges are identified.
Animal transfer form
Animals may be relocated within the NPRC system and the information on the form permits continuity of care and continued tailoring of behavioral management techniques to the needs of individual animals.
Publications by Behavioral Management Consortium members
There are 102 articles published by Behavioral Management Consortium Members since 2011, and most are available in PubMed. There are also four book chapters written by consortium members since 2011.