Genetic selection for temperament affects behaviour and the secretion of adrenal and reproductive hormones in sheep subjected to stress

P A R Hawken, N Lukins, Alan John Tilbrook, C Fiol, Graeme B Martin, D Blache

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We investigated the effect of genetic selection for temperament on the way that stressors affect the behaviour and the adrenal and reproductive axes of sheep. We tested three hypotheses: (i) isolation would increase cortisol secretion and decrease luteinising hormone (LH) secretion more in nervous sheep than in calm sheep; (ii) isolation combined with simulated human presence would increase cortisol secretion and decrease LH secretion more in nervous sheep than in calm sheep and (iii) isolation combined with stressors that were not specific to the selection process (i.e. non-selection stressors) would increase cortisol secretion and decrease LH secretion equally in calm and nervous sheep. Isolation alone increased cortisol secretion and decreased LH secretion in nervous sheep but not in calm sheep. Compared to calm sheep, nervous sheep were more agitated during the first 2 h of isolation but not during the second 2 h of isolation. Exposure to non-selection stressors increased cortisol secretion, decreased LH pulse amplitude and the mean plasma concentrations of LH in both calm and nervous sheep. We conclude that genetic selection for temperament affects the behavioural expression of the stress response and the secretion of adrenal and reproductive hormones during isolation, but has less impact on their reactivity to non-selection stressors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130 - 142
Number of pages13
JournalStress-The International Journal on the Biology of Stress
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Cite this