by Samantha Everett
Faculty mentor: Professor Parrish Waters
Mice are socially aggressive animals and tend to interact in ways that are representative of a social hierarchy. Their interactions and behaviors determine their position in the social hierarchy, i.e., dominant, subordinate, or somewhere in-between. The present study examined the effect of social rank on behavior and stress/anxiety. Mice were given access to a running wheel, an important resource because it provides the mice with stress relieving exercise, in both their home cage and their accessory cage. The mice’s daily activities, along with specific tests, were recorded to measure each mouse’s anxiety and identify them as dominant or subordinate. While the social rank of the mice was determined, none of the physiological or behavioral tests performed provided conclusive results demonstrating significant differences in anxiety or response to stress. This could be attributed to several factors, such as the spacious home cages, the accessibility of the isolated accessory cages, and the availability of two running wheels. Said factors possibly created a less stressful environment for the mice. The lack of significant results could also point to the behaviors and tests observed were not appropriate for detecting the effects of social stress in mice.