Although fear is an adaptive reaction, especially to allow the animal to respond appropriately to threatening stimuli, it may also have deleterious effects on animal welfare, health and productivity, in peculiar if intense or prolonged (Jones et al., 1994) or when fully expressed by animals in captivity. Fearfulness, i.e. propensity to respond fearfully to a wide range of potentially alarming stimuli (Jones et al., 1994) is thus an important component of the animal’s capacity of adaptation. But very little is known about its genetic control and relationships with other traits. This is particularly the case for emotionality, defined by Hall (1934) as related to the behavioural and peripheral changes hypothesized to accompany high sympathetic nervous system activity, which appears to be a complex trait depending on several components (Ramos and Mormède, 1998). Identifying genes involved in the control of fearfulness could help to better understand the mechanisms involved in the control of this trait and their relationships with other traits. It could also suggest new methods of reduction of stress.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 14, , 14.04, 2002
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