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Shy trout grow faster: exploring links between personality and fitness-related traits in the wild


  • Bart Adriaenssens
  • Jörgen I. Johnsson


In many animals, individual differences in behavior show remarkable consistency across situations and contexts (i.e., animal personality and behavioral syndromes). Studies on the association between personality traits and fitness-related measures in nature are, however, important to clarify the causes and consequences of this phenomenon. Here, we tested for correlations between 3 behavioral axes in brown trout (Salmo trutta) parr: exploration tendency, behavioral flexibility, and aggressiveness. Next, we tested how these individual behaviors relate to social dominance and performance under natural conditions (growth, survival, and movement). We found support for behavioral syndromes in brown trout with less explorative individuals being less aggressive and showing more flexible behavior. In addition, these low-explorative personality types grew faster than bolder conspecifics in the wild. Standardized aggression in the laboratory was a poor indicator of social dominance, and neither of these 2 traits affected performance in the wild. These results challenge the view that personality traits can be predicted by constant associations with life-history trade-offs (e.g., boldness is linked with rapid growth). Moreover, our findings suggest that fitness predictions from laboratory measures of behavior should be made with caution and ideally tested in nature. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

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  • Bart Adriaenssens & Jörgen I. Johnsson, 2011. "Shy trout grow faster: exploring links between personality and fitness-related traits in the wild," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(1), pages 135-143.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:1:p:135-143

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