Miller, L. J., Vicino, G. A., Sheftel, J. et al. 2020. Behavioral diversity as a potential indicator of positive animal welfare. Animals 10(7), 1211.
Modern day zoos and aquariums continuously assess the welfare of their animals and use evidence to make informed management decisions. Historically, many of the indicators of animal welfare used to assess the collection are negative indicators of welfare, such as stereotypic behavior. However, a lack of negative indicators of animal welfare does not demonstrate that an individual animal is thriving. There is a need for validated measures of positive animal welfare and there is a growing body of evidence that supports the use of behavioral diversity as a positive indicator of welfare. This includes an inverse relationship with stereotypic behavior as well as fecal glucocorticoid metabolites and is typically higher in situations thought to promote positive welfare. This review article highlights previous research on behavioral diversity as a potential positive indicator of welfare. Details are provided on how to calculate behavioral diversity and how to use it when evaluating animal welfare. Finally, the review will indicate how behavioral diversity can be used to inform an evidence-based management approach to animal care and welfare.