Special Issue "Welfare of Cultured and Experimental Fishes"
A special issue of Fishes (ISSN 2410-3888).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 February 2019).
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.
Interests: marine ecology; fish biology; fish behaviour; biochemistry; morphometry and welfare in aquaculture
Interests: animal behaviour; chemical communication; reproduction; invasive species; physiology
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Welfare is a complex, multidimensional concept that can be broadly described as the state of an animal as it copes with the environment . Rearing conditions of finfish aquaculture and experimentation can impair welfare of captive fishes through stress, negative emotional states, health problems, and even mortality .
Chemical, physical, social and other variables in captive environments can initiate changes at different levels within the individual, especially due to the high complexity of the sensory world of fishes . Vital aspects in fish biology such as swimming capacity, thermoregulation, orientation, chemoreception, feeding, defense or evasion of predators or aggressions, and learning, can be affected under stressful conditions . Behavioral indicators of welfare are easy to observe, and they reflect how a fish is feeling and responding to its surrounding environment. Therefore, knowledge of the specific ethology of a species is essential to ensure the welfare of the fish, and the interpretation of behavioral responses in rearing contexts (aquaculture or experimental) demands knowledge of the underlying mechanisms responsible for those behaviors: Physiological, developmental, functional and evolutionary. In a natural environment, the stress response has evolved to help the animal survive in demanding conditions. However, natural stressors tend to be brief and/or avoidable, while stressors of anthropogenic origin may be unavoidable and prolonged or repetitive. Under such circumstances, chronic or repeated activation of stress responses is not adaptive and can cause severe damage to the animal. Therefore, it is essential to use indicators of welfare that draw attention to early signs of problems related to captivity conditions and allow intervention before harmful states are reached .
As welfare in captivity is affected in multiple dimensions, there are multiple possible indicators to assess the welfare state of captive individuals . These indicators should be based on the natural responses of each species to adverse stimuli. In the past, research on welfare has been focusing largely on health indicators of captive fish and was prominently based on studies of physiological stress . Ethological studies, however, also integrate a mental perspective of the individual and have been gradually taking an important role in welfare research: Behavioral responses to stressful stimuli are an early response to adverse conditions, easily observable, and demonstrative of emotional states. In addition, many behavioral indicators are specific for a single type of stressor, and therefore can be used as a non-invasive measurement of welfare in a practical context, such as aquaculture and experimentation [4,6–8].
Presently, research in fish welfare is growing in importance and interest, either by the growing economic importance of fish farming, by the comparative biology opportunities that experimental fishes provide, or by the increasing public sensitivity to welfare issues.
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- Ashley, P.J. Fish welfare: Current issues in aquaculture. Anim. Behav. Sci. 2017, 104, 199–235.
- Saraiva, J.L.; Castanheira, M.F.; Arechavala-Lopez, P.; Volstorf, J.; Heinzpeter-Studer, B. Domestication and welfare of farmed fishes.
- Huntingford, F.A.; Adams, C.; Braithwaite, V.A.; Kadri, S.; Pottinger, T.G.; Sandøe, P.; Turnbull, J.F. Current issues in fish welfare. Fish Bio. 2006, 68, 332–372.
- Volpato, G. L. Challenges in assessing fish welfare. ILAR J. 2009, 50, 329–337.
- Poli, B.M. Farmed fish welfare-suffering assessment and impact on product quality. J. Anim. Sci. 2009, 8, 139–160.
- Martins, C.I.; Galhardo, L.; Noble, C.; Damsgård, B.; Spedicato, M.T.; Zupa, W.; Beauchaud, M.; Kulczykowska, E.; Massabuau, J.C; Carter. T; et al. Behavioural indicators of welfare in farmed fish. Fish Physio.l Biochem. 2012, 38, 17–41.
- Sopinka, N.M.; Donaldson, M.R.; O’Connor, C.M.; Suski, C.D.; Cooke, S.J. Stress indicators in fish. Fish Physiol. 2016, 35, 405–462.
Dr. Pablo Arechavala-Lopez & Dr. João L. Saraiva
Manuscript Submission Information
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- stress responses
- functional adaptations
- evolutionary mechanisms