Domestication effects on behavioural synchronization and individual distances in chickens (Gallus gallus)

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Eklund, B. Jensen, P.
Behavioural Processes
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Behavioural synchrony (allelomimetic behaviour), and inter-individualdistances are aspects of social and anti-predator strategies which may have been affected by domestication. Chickens are known to adjust synchronization and inter-individualdistances depending on behaviour. We hypothesized that White Leghorn (WL) chickens would show less synchronized behaviour than the ancestor, the red jungle fowl (RJF). Sixty birds, 15 female and 15 male WL and the same number of RJF (28 weeks old) were studied in groups of three in furnished pens (1 m × 2 m) for 24 consecutive hours per group, following 24 h of habituation. Video tapes covering 4 h per group (dawn, 9–10 am, 1–2 pm and dusk) were analysed. Red junglefowl perched significantly more, but there were no breed effects on the frequency or daily rhythm of any other activities, or on average inter-individualdistances. Red junglefowl were more synchronized during perching and a tendency for the same was found for social behaviour. After performance of the two most synchronized behaviours, perching and comfort behaviour, individualdistance increased more for RJF than WL. According to this study domestication of chickens appears not to have significantly altered the relative frequencies of different activities or average inter-individualdistances, but have caused some changes in behaviouralsynchronization and maintenance of activity-specific inter-individualdistances in chickens. The changes may indicate an adaptive response to captivity and domestication.


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