Laboratory Animal Medicine

Laboratory Animal Medicine (Third Edition)

American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine
2015, Pages 1109-1134
Laboratory Animal Medicine

Chapter 23 - Zebra Finches in Biomedical Research

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Zebra finches (Taenopygia guttata, formerly Poephila guttata) are small, colorful songbirds that have been favored by bird fanciers since the nineteenth century. In captivity, zebra finches are prolific breeders and robust ‘easy keepers’; these characteristics, along with a diurnal activity pattern and the singing prowess of males, makes them an attractive model for biomedical researchers. Their increasing popularity resides especially in the fields of neurobiology, with a majority of investigations in the United States focusing on male vocal development, and behavior, such as the basis for mate preference and aggression. However, many other research applications, as well as the production of transgenic birds, have also been pursued. The zebra finch genome is the second avian species to be sequenced (Warren et al., 2010), after that of the chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus). Importantly, a high-resolution digital atlas of the zebra finch brain was recently published (Karten et al., 2013) and detailed; current protocols for using zebra finches in research can be accessed online (Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2014). One review article determined there were considerably more articles about zebra finches in 2008 relative to other passerine species (Bateson and Feenders, 2010), while a tally of PubMed entries for the subject ‘zebra finch’ reveals a steady annual increase in publications that started to escalate during the 1980s.

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