Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


35th Annual Convention; Phoenix, AZ; 2009

Event Details

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Symposium #449
Using Behavior Analysis to Improve Exotic Animal Management: Applications for Husbandry, Wellness and Conservation
Monday, May 25, 2009
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
North 228
Area: EAB; Domain: Applied Behavior Analysis
Chair: Diann Gaalema (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Discussant: Christy A. Alligood (Disney's Animal Kingdom)
Abstract: Methods derived from the experimental analysis of behavior have proven useful in many areas of captive animal care. These techniques have been used successfully to increase physical activity, provide needed stimulation, reduce stress and encourage compliance with basic husbandry and veterinary procedures. The three presentations in this session will illustrate the continued usefulness of behavior modification techniques with captive exotics while introducing new applications in the areas of wellness and conservation. The first presentation of this session will focus on the use of target training to alleviate stress during husbandry and research procedures in capuchin monkeys. The transfer of this learned behavior to a research setting will also be discussed. In the second presentation the role of operant conditioning in a new wellness initiative at the Palm Beach Zoo will be discussed. The behavioral outcomes from this project for several species including alligators, raptors and anteaters will be presented. The third presentation will focus on the use of Pavlovian conditioning as a conservation method for endangered amphibians.
Target Training Facilitates Voluntary Movement of Capuchin Monkeys from Group-Housing Enclosures to Individual Test Cubicles.
ROGER THOMPSON (Franklin & Marshall College), Jon Anderson (Franklin & Marshall College), Caitlin Knierim (Franklin & Marshall College), Audrey Koid (Franklin & Marshall College), Sarah Chabal (Colgate University), Sabrina Brando (Animal Concepts)
Abstract: Target training procedures were used to rapidly train 10 capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) to voluntarily enter and leave test cubicles directly from group housing. Target training alleviates the stress for both humans and animals associated with traditional methods of capture and restraint in husbandry and testing procedures. Initially, when an animal approached its target, a geometric, colored shape, it was presented with a click “bridge” stimulus followed by a food reinforcer. In subsequent training stages, the animals were rewarded for touching, holding, and following targets into a test cubicle where responses were successfully generalized to different sized targets and targets were discriminated from those of other monkeys. However, when paired, monkeys also attempted to touch the target of their partner suggesting that they may have formed a conceptual stimulus equivalence set of “target.” Individual 'errorless' discriminative performances also transferred to targets presented behind mesh and glass. Responding in this latter glass condition is being used to facilitate transfer of responding to touch screen screen displays that will be used in future noninvasive studies of concept learning and perception including tests of the hypothesis alluded to above that during target training the animals acquired a conceptual stimulus equivalence set of "Target".
Behavior Analysis and Wildlife Wellness
TERRY L. MAPLE (Palm Beach Zoo), Emily Maple (Palm Beach Zoo)
Abstract: The Palm Beach Zoo, an institution will a strong commitment to applied behavior analysis, has developed a "Wildlife Wellness" management philosophy providing best practices for improving overall physical and psychological health for a diversity of wildlife including birds, mammals, and reptiles. The program is based on a sophisticated training history that controls behavior in exhibits and behind the scenes, and provides opportunities for the public to observe animals interacting with their keepers/trainers. New protocols, developed through collaboration among keepers, curators, scientific staff, and veterinarians, combine more naturalistic sources for food, nutritional advances, enrichment, and induced activity through operant conditioning on a daily basis. Each animal and each species is provided with an individually tailored schedule and regime managed by computerized record systems. The wellness program has also led to the development of an innovative new facility currently in the programming and design process, the Wildlife Wellness Center, and a new outreach program that aims to teach public school children better health practices based on our success in managing exotic fauna at the zoo. We will demonstrate the results of our wellness experiments with several unusual species including alligators, raptors, and anteaters.
Sexual Conditioning in the Dyeing Dart Frog
DIANN GAALEMA (Georgia Institute of Technology), Terry L. Maple (Georgia Institute of Technology), M. Jackson Marr (Georgia Tech), Paul Corballis (Georgia Institute of Technology), Mollie Bloomsmith (Yerkes National Primate Research Center), Danté Fenolio (Atlanta Botanical Garden)
Abstract: Sexual conditioning, a form of Pavlovian conditioning, has been used to improve reproductive outcomes in a variety of species. Benefits such as more appropriate breeding behavior and even increased number of offspring have been demonstrated in species as different as Japanese quail and blue gouramis. In the current study sexual conditioning is being used to encourage breeding behavior in the dyeing dart frog. In sexual conditioning access to a receptive mate is made contingent on the presentation of an initially neutral stimulus. The conditional stimulus is then presented prior to a breeding opportunity. Groups where this contingency is in place are predicted to have better breeding outcomes compared to control groups. As many amphibians are currently going extinct in the wild, any technique that can improve captive breeding in this species has major conservation applications. The unique challenges of working with amphibians in a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm will also be discussed.



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