SOP for Nesting Behavior

Included in this page is a link to a nest scoring standard operating procedure and data sheet. Please see the standard operating procedures for recording behavior, standard operating procedures for aerial recording, and observational methods pages for more information.
Please download the excel data sheet and nest scoring SOP from the links below. The data sheet is formatted to print on 8.5x11. If you want the sheet to start at a different time of day, simply enter that time on the first row of the sheet, and it will reformat accordingly.
Time I GA M Pi C Fr PD S D Fl Sh Notes

The observed time is split into time slots (10 minutes long in this case), and the data sheet provides a row for each timeslot in a 24h period, and a column for each major behavioral category. For ease of reference, alternate hours are shaded white or grey. The sheet contains columns for key behavior categories. These categories each contain many individual behaviors, but are designed to allow the investigator to rapidly pick up functional differences between animals. The categories are as follows:

  1. The I column is for recording inactive behaviors
  2. The GA column is for recording general activity
  3. The M column is for recording maintenance behaviors
  4. The Pi column is for recording Pulling in
  5. The C column is for recording carrying
  6. The Fr column is for recording fraying
  7. The PD column is for recording push-dig
  8. The S column is for recording sorting
  9. The D column is for recording digging
  10. The Fl column is for recoding fluffing
  11. The Sh column is for recording shoveling

Proceed with interval recording as follows

  1. Move the video to the exact time of the timeslot, and simply record the behavior being performed at this time.
  2. It may be necessary to match a few seconds before and after the time point to be certain which behavior to record.
  3. Move to the next timeslot.
  4. As before, data can be summarized in sub-blocks, or for the whole 24h. Simply calculate the total % of time spent in each behavior. Check your work by making sure that the data total to 100%.
  5. We generally analyze these data using a multivariate approach. Examples can be found in Some like it hot: Mouse temperature preferences in laboratory housing.

Singly housed vs. group housed animals

  1. The methods above are straightforward for singly housed animals.
  2. For group housed animals, you may be interested in encoding different individuals separately (e.g. if you have treatment and control animals in the same cage), in which case simply keep separate data sheets for each animal.
  3. Alternatively, you may be interested in the behavior of the group as a whole. In which case the procedures above are modified differently for 1/0 and interval recording.
    • - For interval recording, record the number of animals performing each category of behavior at each timeslot. Thus the total for each timeslot will equal the number of animals in the cage.
    • - Calculations are then performed as detailed above.