Bayne, K. 2005. Environmental enrichment: Potential for unintended consequences and research results. ILAR Journal 46(2), 129-139.
Many aspects of the research animal's housing environment are controlled for quality and/or standardization. Of recent interest is the potential for environmental enrichment to have unexpected consequences such as unintended harm to the animal, or the introduction of variability into a study that may confound the experimental data. The effects of enrichment provided to nonhuman primates, rodents, and rabbits are described to illustrate that the effects can be numerous and may vary by strain and/or species. Examples of parameters measured where no change is detected are also included because this information provides an important counterpoint to studies that demonstrate an effect. In addition, this review of effects and noneffects serves as a reminder that the provision of enrichment should be evaluated in the context of the health of the animal and research goals on a case-by-case basis. It should also be kept in mind that the effects produced by enrichment are similar to those of other components of the animal's environment. Although it is unlikely that every possible environmental variable can be controlled both within and among research institutions, more detailed disclosure of the living environment of the subject animals in publications will allow for a better comparison of the findings and contribute to the broader knowledge base of the effects of enrichment.