February 13 2014

5:00 pm 154 BSRB

EcoEvoPub Series

Graduate Student Presentations


Emily Curd
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


Matthew Petelle
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

"Development, causes, and maintenance of personality in yellow-bellied marmots"

Animal personality, or consistent individual differences in behavior, is an increasingly important in behavioral ecology. Differences in personality can affect survival and reproduction, as well as how a population responds to environmental change. Despite this, what causes individual behavioral differences, when they develop, how and whether they are maintained throughout ontogeny, and how environmental factors affect them throughout life is poorly understood. Additionally, few studies have investigated how and when behavioral syndromes, or correlations between personality traits, form. Understanding these pathways is important for determining the function and evolution of animal personality. To do this, we examined the development, causes, and maintenance of multiple personality traits in a free-living population of yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris). To understand development of personality traits, we quantified repeatability, or individual consistency, within three age groups (juveniles, yearlings, and adults), and individual and syndrome stability across these same life stages. We found that boldness is repeatable only in yearlings, but docility is repeatable in all age classes. We also found that juvenile docility predicted later docility; this trend was not seen in boldness. We found no behavioral syndrome, or correlation, between boldness and docility in any life stage. This suggests that these personality traits develop independently and at age-appropriate times. Additionally, to understand the causes and maintenance of personality, we tested three major theoretical hypotheses (growth rate, residual reproductive value, and body condition) on docility, activity, and exploration. We found no evidence for any of these hypotheses in any of these personality traits. Further work will test how social networks may cause personality through social niche specialization.











































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































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