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Research article2005Peer reviewed

Exploration and risk assessment in female wild house mice (Mus musculus musculus) and two laboratory strains

Augustsson H, Dahlborn K, Meyerson BJ


In an evolutionary prospective, it is possible that female mice have a differential perception of novel events than male mice and use a different behavioural strategy for risk assessment. However, female mice are less studied than male mice in behavioural tests of emotional reactivity. The aim of the present study was to investigate how wild-derived female house mice differ from domesticated female mice in their risk assessment strategy. A total of 46 adult female mice, 14 BALB/c, 16 C57BL/6 and 14 Wild mice were tested in the Concentric Square Field (CSF), Open Field (OF) and Elevated Plus Maze (EPM) at three consecutive days. Parameters from all three tests were categorized according to their relevance to activity, exploration, approach-avoidance and use of open areas-shelter. Principal Component Analysis (PCA-SIMCA) of the animals' behaviour in the CSF arena was performed both for females alone and in comparison with earlier findings in male mice under the same test conditions. The results clearly show that female wild mice had a higher avoidance of open areas than the laboratory strains. There was also a trend indicating differences in exploration and approach-avoidance between female Wild and the laboratory strains. The multivariate test, CSF, was able to detect differences between Wild and laboratory strains in three (exploration, approach-avoidance, open-shelter) of the four functional categories measured. Wild female mice also had a higher frequency of rearing and grooming and a lower duration in the corridors in the CSF. Clear strain differences were found between BALB and C57BL in all tests where BALB generally had higher risk assessment and lower risk taking than C57BL. No general sex differences were found, however the sex differences were greater in Wild mice compared to the laboratory strains. (c) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

Published in

Physiology and Behavior
2005, Volume: 84, number: 2, pages: 265-277