Skin temperature reveals the intensity of acute stress

Herborn, K. A., Graves, J. L., Jerem, P., Evans, N. P. , Nager, R. , McCafferty, D. J. and McKeegan, D. E.F. (2015) Skin temperature reveals the intensity of acute stress. Physiology and Behavior, 152(Pt. A), pp. 225-230. (doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.09.032) (PMID:26434785) (PMCID:PMC4664114)

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Acute stress triggers peripheral vasoconstriction, causing a rapid, short-term drop in skin temperature in homeotherms. We tested, for the first time, whether this response has the potential to quantify stress, by exhibiting proportionality with stressor intensity. We used established behavioural and hormonal markers: activity level and corticosterone level, to validate a mild and more severe form of an acute restraint stressor in hens (Gallus gallus domesticus). We then used infrared thermography (IRT) to non-invasively collect continuous temperature measurements following exposure to these two intensities of acute handling stress. In the comb and wattle, two skin regions with a known thermoregulatory role, stressor intensity predicted the extent of initial skin cooling, and also the occurrence of a more delayed skin warming, providing two opportunities to quantify stress. With the present, cost-effective availability of IRT technology, this non-invasive and continuous method of stress assessment in unrestrained animals has the potential to become common practice in pure and applied research.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McCafferty, Dr Dominic and Evans, Professor Neil and McKeegan, Dr Dorothy and Herborn, Dr Katherine and Nager, Dr Ruedi
Authors: Herborn, K. A., Graves, J. L., Jerem, P., Evans, N. P., Nager, R., McCafferty, D. J., and McKeegan, D. E.F.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Physiology and Behavior
ISSN (Online):1873-507X
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Physiology and Behavior 155(pt. A):125-130
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
599051Thermography as a tool for the assessment of stress and affective states in an avian modelDorothy MckeeganBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/K002775/1RI BIODIVERSITY ANIMAL HEALTH & COMPMED