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The Callicam
Current Common Marmoset Research

Current Research - Page 9

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IV. Behavioral Research

A) Enrichment

  • Although marmosets are used in research, their health and well being is of interest to researchers and studies are, therefore, performed to keep them as stress free and comfortable as possible

Although common marmosets used in research are captive and not wild, researchers are sensitive to maintaining a high quality of life for them. Researchers constantly run studies on ways to increase or improve environmental enrichment for captive marmosets. One study assesses ways to reduce stress on a marmoset when it is separated from its group. Marmosets are social animals and live in social groups so when a marmoset is removed it may feel stress because it is no longer in a familiar place. Researchers, therefore, try to find ways to reduce this stress so an animal can be isolated for a study. Researchers study stress reducers by putting single marmosets into cages with one of two types of puzzle feeders (a device so non-human primates have to look for their food as they would in the wild); one with familiar food and the other with items not usually available to the animal. Behavioral measures such as the frequency of long distance calls to other group members are taken to assess the stress level of the marmoset; more frequent long call indicate the marmoset is feeling more stress. Researchers found that puzzle feeders with new items elicited more interest than that filled with familiar food, however, the marmosets still showed some separation stress. Although marmosets still showed low levels of stress it appears that enrichment with new objects may help to buffer them a little.

Another enrichment study was aimed to detect which environmental enrichments elicited more interest from the marmosets. Researchers gave marmoset groups the choice between two cages; one with puzzle feeders or one with wooden platforms. Researchers found that the families preferred the cages with the wooden blocks to those with puzzle feeders. This type of enrichment study allows the marmosets to play a role in determining what will be placed in their cages. This, in turn, provides the marmosets control over their environment and will potentially help reduce their stress levels. Researchers are, therefore, continuously trying new enrichment ideas to keep the marmosets as happy and stress free as possible.

Further reading:

De Rosa, C., Vitale, A., & Puopolo, M. (2000). Environmental Enrichment in Non-human Primates: An Experimental Approach. European Marmoset Research Group. Inter-Disciplinary Forum for Discussion and Training in Primate Biological and Biomedical Research. 6th Workshop of the European Marmoset Research Group (Programme & Abstracts). 9.

Queyras, A., Bernarducci, R., & Vitale, A. (2000). Enrichment During Separation: A Physiological and Behavioral Responses to Enrichment in Captive Common Marmosets. Environmental Enrichment in Non-human Primates: An Experimental Approach. European Marmoset Research Group. Inter-Disciplinary Forum for Discussion and Training in Primate Biological and Biomedical Research. 6th Workshop of the European Marmoset Research Group (Programme & Abstracts). 33.

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Text by Rebecca Dallwig.