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Developmental programming, evolution, and animal welfare: a case for evolutionary veterinary science

Veit, Walter and Browning, Heather (2021) Developmental programming, evolution, and animal welfare: a case for evolutionary veterinary science. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science. ISSN 1088-8705

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Identification Number: 10.1080/10888705.2021.2014838


The conditions animals experience during the early developmental stages of their lives can have critical ongoing effects on their future health, welfare, and proper development. In this paper we draw on evolutionary theory to improve our understanding of the processes of developmental programming, particularly Predictive Adaptive Responses (PAR) that serve to match offspring phenotype with predicted future environmental conditions. When these predictions fail, a mismatch occurs between offspring phenotype and the environment, which can have long-lasting health and welfare effects. Examples include metabolic diseases resulting from maternal nutrition and behavioral changes from maternal stress. An understanding of these processes and their evolutionary origins will help in identifying and providing appropriate developmental conditions to optimize offspring welfare. This serves as an example of the benefits of using evolutionary thinking within veterinary science and we suggest that in the same way that evolutionary medicine has helped our understanding of human health, the implementation of evolutionary veterinary science (EvoVetSci) could be a useful way forward for research in animal health and welfare.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2021 16:48
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2022 09:06

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