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Pain and stress in crustaceans? (Special Issue: Animal suffering and welfare.)

By R. W. Elwood, S. Barr, L. Patterson

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We consider evidence that crustaceans might experience pain and stress in ways that are analogous to those of vertebrates. Various criteria are applied that might indicate a potential for pain experience: (1) a suitable central nervous system and receptors, (2) avoidance learning, (3) protective motor reactions that might include reduced use of the affected area, limping, rubbing, holding or autotomy, (4) physiological changes, (5) trade-offs between stimulus avoidance and other motivational requirements, (6) opioid receptors and evidence of reduced pain experience if treated with local anaesthetics or analgesics, and (7) high cognitive ability and sentience. For stress, we examine hormonal responses that have similar function to glucocorticoids in vertebrates. We conclude that there is considerable similarity of function, although different systems are used, and thus there might be a similar experience in terms of suffering. The treatment of these animals in the food industry and elsewhere might thus pose welfare problems.

Date 2009
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 118
Issue 3/4
Pages 128-136
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.02.018
Language English
Author Address School of Biological Sciences, Queen's University, MBC, Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT7 9BL, Northern Ireland, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analgesia
  2. Anesthesia
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Arthropods
  5. Avoidance
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Central nervous system
  8. Crustaceans
  9. Food economics
  10. Food industry
  11. Glucocorticoids
  12. Invertebrates
  13. nervous system
  14. Pain
  15. pain relief
  16. peer-reviewed
  17. receptors
  18. therapeutics
  19. therapy
  1. peer-reviewed