Personality from the perspective of behavioral ecology

Book cover of Personality in Nonhuman Animals


In animal populations, as in humans, behavioural differences between individuals that are consistent over time and across contexts are considered to reflect personality, and suites of correlated behaviours expressed by individuals are known as behavioural syndromes. Lifelong stability of behavioural syndromes is often assumed, either implicitly or explicitly. Here, we use a quantitative genetic approach to study the developmental stability of a behavioural syndrome in a wild population of blue tits. We find that a behavioural syndrome formed by a strong genetic correlation of two personality traits in nestlings disappears in adults, and we demonstrate that genotype-age interaction is the likely mechanism underlying this change during development. A behavioural syndrome may hence change during organismal development, even when personality traits seem to be strongly physiologically or functionally linked in one age group. We outline how such developmental plasticity has important ramifications for understanding the mechanistic basis as well as the evolutionary consequences of behavioural syndromes.

Vonk J., Weiss A., Kuczaj S.(eds) Personality in Nonhuman Animals, Springer, Cham, pp. 73-107
Barbara Class
Barbara Class

I am a researcher interested in among-individual differences in wild vertebrate populations.