Animal Personality Explains Among-Individual Variation in Antipredator Strategies

Meeting Abstract

34-4  Thursday, Jan. 5 14:15 – 14:30  Animal Personality Explains Among-Individual Variation in Antipredator Strategies GOODCHILD, CG*; SCHMIDT, LM; DURANT, SE; Oklahoma State University

The animal personality hypothesis postulates that animals have limited behavioral plasticity, and consequently, an individual’s behavioral traits will be consistently expressed across different ecological contexts (e.g., predation regimes). Since there is among-individual variation in behavioral traits, individuals within a population can be characterized along behavioral axes (e.g., bold-shy axis). Because “bold” and “shy” individuals have limited behavioral plasticity, the animal personality hypothesis predicts that individuals will consistently display shy or bold behaviors, even if such behaviors are suboptimal for a particular ecological scenario. For instance, bold behaviors may be optimal if predator risk is low, or suboptimal if predation risk is high. Therefore, individuals may express compensatory traits that diminish the cost of suboptimal carryover behaviors. In this study, we examined whether animal personality influenced antipredator responses in snails exposed to a predator cue. To do so, we determined relative boldness of snails (Helisoma trivolvis) by measuring latency to re-emerge from shell. We then exposed bold and shy individuals to predator cues and measured crawl-out behavior, activity, shell crush resistance, and shell morphology. We found that bold snails exposed to a predator cue employed a crawl-out antipredator strategy, whereas shy snails remained in the predator environment and invested greater resources in shell crush resistance. Bold snails were more active and had more defensible shell morphologies. These results suggest animal personality explains within-population variation in antipredator responses. Moreover, the interaction between personality, morphology, and compensatory behaviors provides empirical evidence for state-dependent behavioral feedback loops.

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