• Improving the practicality of using non-aversive handling methods to reduce background stress and anxiety in laboratory mice

      Gouveia, Kelly; Hurst, Jane; University of Liverpool; University of Chester
      Handling can stimulate stress and anxiety in laboratory animals that negatively impacts welfare and introduces a confounding factor in many areas of research. Picking up mice by the tail is a major source of handling stress that results in strong aversion to the handler, while mice familiarised with being picked up in a tunnel or cupped on the open hand show low stress and anxiety, and actively seek interaction with their handlers. Here we investigate the duration and frequency of handling required for effective familiarisation with these non-aversive handling methods, and test whether this is sufficient to prevent aversion and anxiety when animals then experience immobilisation and a mild procedure (subcutaneous injection). Very brief handling (2 s) was sufficient to familiarise mice with tunnel handling, even when experienced only during cage cleaning. Brief but more frequent handling was needed for familiarisation with cup handling, while pick up by tail induced strong aversion even when handling was brief and infrequent. Experience of repeated immobilisation and subcutaneous injection did not reverse the positive effects of tunnel handling. Our findings demonstrate that replacing tail with tunnel handling during routine cage cleaning and procedures provides a major refinement with little if any cost for familiarisation.
    • Lipid remodelling in the reef-building honeycomb worm, Sabellaria alveolata, reflects acclimation and local adaptation to temperature

      Muir, Anna P.; Nunes, Flavia L. D.; Dubois, Stanislas F.; Pernet, Fabrice; University of Chester; Ifremer Centre Bretagne; Ifremer Centre Bretagne; Ifremer Centre Bretagne (Nature Publishing Group, 2016-10-20)
      Acclimation and adaptation, which are key to species survival in a changing climate, can be observed in terms of membrane lipid composition. Remodelling membrane lipids, via homeoviscous adaptation (HVA), counteracts membrane dysfunction due to temperature in poikilotherms. In order to assess the potential for acclimation and adaptation in the honeycomb worm, Sabellaria alveolata, a reefbuilding polychaete that supports high biodiversity, we carried out common-garden experiments using individuals from along its latitudinal range. Individuals were exposed to a stepwise temperature increase from 15 °C to 25 °C and membrane lipid composition assessed. Our results suggest that S. alveolata was able to acclimate to higher temperatures, as observed by a decrease in unsaturation index and 20:5n-3. However, over the long-term at 25 °C, lipid composition patterns are not consistent with HVA expectations and suggest a stress response. Furthermore, unsaturation index of individuals from the two coldest sites were higher than those from the two warmest sites, with individuals from the thermally intermediate site being in-between, likely reflecting local adaptation to temperature. Therefore, lipid remodelling appears limited at the highest temperatures in S. alveolata, suggesting that individuals inhabiting warm environments may be close to their upper thermal tolerance limits and at risk in a changing climate.