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Animal behavior studies usually produce large amounts of data and a wide variety of data structures, including nonlinear relationships, interaction effects, nonconstant variance, correlated measures, overdispersion, and zero inflation, among others. We aimed to explore here the potential of generalized additive models for location, scale and shape (GAMLSS) in analyzing data from animal behavior studies. Data from 20 Romane ewes from two genetic lineages submitted to brushing by a familiar observer were analyzed. Behavioral responses through ear posture changes, a count random variable, and the proportion of time to perform the horizontal ear posture, a continuous random variable on the interval (0,1), with non-null probabilities in zero and one, were analyzed. The Poisson, negative binomial, and their zero-inflated and zero-adjusted extensions models were considered for the count data, whereas the beta distribution and its inflated versions were evaluated for the proportions. Random effects were also included to consider the multilevel structure of the experiment. The zero adjusted negative binomial model has better fitted the count data, whereas the inflated beta distribution performed the best for the proportions. Both models allowed us to properly assess the effects of social separation, brushing, and genetic lineages on sheep behavioral. We may conclude that GAMLSS is a flexible framework to analyze animal behavior data.
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