Animal personality due to social niche specialisation

The existence of ‘animal personality’, i.e. consistent individual differences in behaviour across time and contexts, is an evolutionary puzzle that has recently generated considerable research interest. Although social factors are generally considered to be important, it is as yet unclear how they might select for personality. Drawing from ecological niche theory, we explore how social […]

Unravelling animal personalities: how and why individuals consistently differ

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Behavioural reaction norms: animal personality meets individual plasticity

Recent studies in the field of behavioural ecology have revealed intriguing variation in behaviour within single populations. Increasing evidence suggests that individual animals differ in their average level of behaviour displayed across a range of contexts (animal ‘personality’), and in their responsiveness to environmental variation (plasticity), and that these phenomena can be considered complementary aspects […]

Are we barking up the right tree? Evaluating a comparative approach to personality

Animal studies can enrich the field of human personality psychology by addressing questions that are difficult or impossible to address with human studies alone. However, the benefits of a comparative approach to personality cannot be reaped until the tenability of the personality construct has been established in animals. Using criteria established in the wake of […]

Novel Environmental Enrichment May Provide a Tool for Rapid Assessment of Animal Personality: A Case Study With Giant Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Historically, the assessment of nonhuman animal personality has included a variety of methods—from direct behavioral observations in a variety of test situations to assessments provided by animal caretakers or trainers. Careful observation of how animals in zoos interact with novel enrichment may provide reliable insight into their personality. This study sought to describe a process […]

Consistency of temperament in bighorn ewes and correlates with behaviour and life history

Individual differences in temperament may affect how animals react to novel situations, avoid predation, invest in reproduction and behave in a variety of social contexts. Little information is available, however, about individual differences in temperament for wild animals. For bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis, ewes captured as part of a long-term study, we compared behaviour during […]

Shyness and boldness in pumpkinseed sunfish: individual differences are context-specific

Natural selection often promotes a mix of behavioural phenotypes in a population. Adaptive variation in the propensity to take risks might explain individual differences in shyness and boldness in humans and other species. It is often implicitly assumed that shyness and boldness are general personality traits expressed across many situations. From the evolutionary standpoint, however, […]

Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution

Abstract Temperament describes the idea that individual behavioural differences are repeatable over time and across situations. This common phenomenon covers numerous traits, such as aggressiveness, avoidance of novelty, willingness to take risks, exploration, and sociality. The study of temperament is central to animal psychology, behavioural genetics, pharmacology, and animal husbandry, but relatively few studies have […]

Avian personalities: characterization and epigenesis

The work presented here aims at understanding the nature, epigenesis and function of personality types (here called behavioral profiles) in birds, focusing on a wild bird species, the great tit (Parus major). Lines bidirectionally selected for exploration show a wide array of social and non-social behavioral differences, and also some differences in physiological parameters. Line […]

Using repeatability to study physiological and behavioural traits: ignore time-related change at your peril

Broad sense repeatability, which refers to the extent to which individual differences in trait scores are maintained over time, is of increasing interest to researchers studying behavioural or physiological traits. Broad sense repeatability is most often inferred from the statistic R (the intraclass correlation, or narrow sense repeatability). However, R ignores change over time, despite […]