Murai, T., Sukoff Rizzo, S. J. 2020. The importance of complementary collaboration of researchers, veterinarians, and husbandry staff in the successful training of marmoset behavioral assays. ILAR Journal 61(2-3), 230-247.
Interest in marmosets as research models has seen exponential growth over the last decade, especially given that the research community is eager to improve on gaps with historical animal models for behavioral and cognitive disorders. The spectrum of human disease traits that present naturally in marmosets, as well as the range of analogous human behaviors that can be assessed in marmosets, makes them ideally suited as translational models for behavioral and cognitive disorders. Regardless of the specific research aims of any project, without close collaboration between researchers, veterinarians, and animal care staff, it would be impossible to meet these goals. Behavior is inherently variable, as are marmosets that are genetically and phenotypically diverse. Thus, to ensure rigor, reliability, and reproducibility in results, it is important that in the research environment, the animal’s daily husbandry and veterinary needs are being met and align with the research goals while keeping the welfare of the animal the most critical and highest priority. Much of the information described herein provides details on key components for successful behavioral testing, based on a compendium of methods from peer-reviewed publications and our own experiences. Specific areas highlighted include habituation procedures, selection of appropriate rewards, optimization of testing environments, and ways to integrate regular veterinary and husbandry procedures into the research program with minimal disruptions to the behavioral testing plan. This article aims to provide a broad foundation for researchers new to establishing behavioral and cognitive testing paradigms in marmosets and especially for the veterinary and husbandry colleagues who are indispensable collaborators of these research projects.