Schapiro, S. J., Neal Webb, S. J., Mulholland, M. M. et al. 2019. Behavioral management is a key component of ethical research. ILAR Journal 60(3), 389-396.
Behavioral management programs aim to enhance the welfare of animal subjects that participate in research, thereby enhancing our ability to conduct ethical research projects. Socialization strategies, environmental enrichment techniques, opportunities for subjects to voluntarily participate in research procedures, and the provision of Functionally Appropriate Captive Environments are 4 major components of most behavioral management programs. The appropriate implementation of behavioral management programs should provide animals with opportunities to engage in species-typical activity patterns, contributing to valid and reliable animal models that require the smallest number of subjects to achieve meaningful results. The role that socialization strategies, environmental enrichment techniques, and positive reinforcement training can play in maintaining and enhancing welfare through the stimulation of species-typical behavior and the prevention of abnormal behavior is discussed. The value of empirically assessing the effects of behavioral management techniques is emphasized. Additionally, the necessity of adjusting the relative prioritization of needs related to the convenience of human caregivers and the animals themselves is addressed. For the purposes of this discussion, research projects are considered to be ethical if they (1) involve animals with high welfare, (2) provide data that are reliable and valid, (3) involve appropriate numbers of subjects, and (4) involve animals that are appropriate models to test meaningful hypotheses.