Kristina M. Horback, Ph.D.

Kristina Horback

Unit
Assistant Professor, Department of Animal Science

2143 Meyer Hall
Bio

Education

  • B.A., University of California San Diego, 2007 (Psychology)
  • M.A., University of Southern Mississippi, 2011 (Experimental Psychology)
  • Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi, 2012 (Experimental Psychology)

Research Interests

A primary objective of my research is to identify consistent personality traits among domestic farm animals and to evaluate the relationship between personality and the assessment of an animal’s physical and psychological welfare (e.g., affective states). My ongoing research plan is to investigate whether species-specific personality traits influence how an animal not only copes with stress but also how the animal expresses its internal state, such as pain or fear, in order to enhance animal-based measurements of welfare. Knowledge of individual differences in personality may allow animal caretakers to gauge social compatibility, customize environmental enrichment, and identify individuals more susceptible or resilient to environment/social stress.

The goal of the Horback lab is to investigate whether personality traits influence how an animal copes with stress as well as how the animal expresses its internal state, such as pain or fear, in order to enhance animal-based measurements of welfare. Knowledge of individual differences in personality may allow animal caretakers to gauge social compatibility, customize environmental enrichment, and identify individuals more susceptible or resilient to environment/social stress. We utilize cognitive bias testing (attentional and judgment bias) to infer an animal’s affective (emotional) state. Future research questions include: 1. Do certain personality traits correlate to persistent positive or negative affective states? 2. How do housing conditions and management practices influence the development and expression of personality traits in domestic farm animals? 3. How does the evaluation of emotions in animals (e.g., approach/ avoidance behavior; vocalizations; HPA and SAM activity) vary based on personality trait? 4. What is the relationship between breed selection of domestic farm animals and the heritability of personality traits?

Graduate Groups

Selected Publications

Horback, K., Pierdon, M., and Parsons, T. (in press). Behavioral preference for enrichment type in group housed gestating sows. Applied Animal Behavior Science.

Horback, K. and Parsons, T. (2016). Temporal stability of personality traits in group-housed gestating sows. Animal, 1-9.

Hacker, C., Horback, K., and Miller, L. (2015). GPS technology as a proxy tool for determining relationships in social animals: An example with African elephants. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 163, 175-182.

Horback, K., Miller, L., Andrews, J., and Kuczaj, S. (2014). Daytime versus nighttime activity budgets of zoo African elephants. Zoo Biology, 33, 403-410.

Horback, K. (2014). Nosing around: Play in pigs. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 1, 186-196.

Horback, K., Miller, L., and Kuczaj, S. (2013). Personality assessment in African elephants: Consistency over time. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 149, 55-62.

Horback, K., Muraco, H., and Kuczaj, S. (2012). Variations in interspecific social behavior throughout the estrous cycle of a killer whale. Aquatic Mammals, 38, 428-434.

Horback, K., Miller, L., Andrews, J., Kuczaj, S., and Anderson, M. (2012). The effects of GPS collars on African elephant behavior. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 142, 76-81.