Behavioral Toxicology of Livestock Ingestion Plant Toxins
Journal of Range Management
Traditionally, effects of plant toxins on livestock have been measured using tissue or biochemical changes to determine the extent of intoxication. In addition to traditional approaches, toxic effects can be measured using behavioral principles; this discipline is called behavioral toxicology. Behavioral toxicology is a combination of toxicology, pharmacology, and the experimental analysis of behavior. Behavioral toxicology offers a sensitive means to determine toxic impacts by evaluating behavior, since behavior is a functional integration of all body systems. Concurrent use of behavior and traditional pathological measures will enhance our understanding of plant-caused intoxications. Operant analysis of animal behavior is a powerful technique used often in behavioral toxicology for establishing normal behavior, and detecting toxicity-induced deviations from normal behavior. Behavioral toxicology can provide an understanding of ingestive and reproductive (sexual and maternal) responses of livestock after exposure to a variety of plant toxins. Such information, together with knowledge about plant/animal interactions, will provide range and animal managers with tools to use in preventing or reducing livestock losses to poisonous plants.
Pfister, James A., Carl D. Cheney, Frederick D. Provenza. 1993. Behavioral Toxicology of Livestock Ingestion Plant Toxins. Journal of Range Management 45(1): 30-36.