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Assessing short- and long-term repeatability and stability of personality in captive zebra finches using longitudinal data


David, Morgan; Auclair, Yannick; Cezilly, Frank (2012). Assessing short- and long-term repeatability and stability of personality in captive zebra finches using longitudinal data. Ethology, 118(10):932-942.

Abstract

Assessing behavioural consistency is crucial to understand the evolution of personality traits. In the present study we examined the short- and long-term repeatability and stability of two unrelated personality traits—exploratory tendencies and struggling rate—using captive female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). We performed two experimental sessions of behavioural tests with a seven-month interval, which represents up to one quarter of a zebra finch's life expectancy. We showed that, overall, exploratory tendencies and struggling rate were significantly repeatable in the short-term. However, only exploratory tendencies were repeatable in the long-term. We found inter-individual differences in short-term stability of exploratory tendencies, but not struggling rate, providing evidence for differences in intra-individual variability. In the long-term, struggling rate significantly decreased between the two experimental sessions, whereas exploratory tendencies remained stable. Finally, the amount of inter-individual variation measured at both sessions did not differ. Our results suggest that short- and long-term repeatability and stability of personality may vary between individuals, depending on the behavioural trait under scrutiny. As a consequence, deducing personality from measures realized earlier in a subject’s life should be performed with caution. We discuss the implications of inter- and intra-individual variation in personality consistency on individual fitness.

Abstract

Assessing behavioural consistency is crucial to understand the evolution of personality traits. In the present study we examined the short- and long-term repeatability and stability of two unrelated personality traits—exploratory tendencies and struggling rate—using captive female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata). We performed two experimental sessions of behavioural tests with a seven-month interval, which represents up to one quarter of a zebra finch's life expectancy. We showed that, overall, exploratory tendencies and struggling rate were significantly repeatable in the short-term. However, only exploratory tendencies were repeatable in the long-term. We found inter-individual differences in short-term stability of exploratory tendencies, but not struggling rate, providing evidence for differences in intra-individual variability. In the long-term, struggling rate significantly decreased between the two experimental sessions, whereas exploratory tendencies remained stable. Finally, the amount of inter-individual variation measured at both sessions did not differ. Our results suggest that short- and long-term repeatability and stability of personality may vary between individuals, depending on the behavioural trait under scrutiny. As a consequence, deducing personality from measures realized earlier in a subject’s life should be performed with caution. We discuss the implications of inter- and intra-individual variation in personality consistency on individual fitness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:04 Sep 2012 12:53
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:52
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0179-1613
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0310.2012.02085.x

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