Posted by: oikosasa | October 19, 2012

What shapes the personality?

Oh, yes, fish have personalities as well! Matthew Edenbrow and his colleague has digged deeper into this to unravel the basis behind it. Now on early View: “Environmental and genetic effects shape the development of personality traits in the mangrove killifish Kryptolebias marmoratus”

Here’s Matthew’s own story:

Personality is defined as individual consistency in behaviour over time or situations. In humans it is obvious that we all differ in our personalities with some individuals being risk takers or bolder than others. While personality is clearly part of what it means to be human, there is considerable evidence suggesting that these traits are also exhibited throughout the animal kingdom. In particular, personality has been documented in several animal groups including primates, reptiles, fish and even insects, suggesting that personality is not only important but that it evolved early. At present, however, we have little insight into what factors determine individual differences in personality. Research suggests that experiences of different environments during development may underpin personality variation. In addition, growth as well as age at sexual maturity may also be important; with fast growth/early maturity suggested to generate bolder personalities. In this study we used the naturally “clonal” mangrove killifish (Kryptolebias marmoratus) as our study organism. This species is exciting because it permits us to investigate how genetically identical individuals adjust behaviour, growth and reproductive development depending upon the environment experienced. In this study we reared several genetically identical individuals in three rearing environments: 1) the presence of siblings, 2) reduced food and 3) simulated predation risk. We then investigated growth and three personality traits: exploration, boldness, and aggression, at three stages of development. Our results indicate that only individuals exposed to simulated predation risk exhibited behaviour consistency, suggesting that risk perception during early life stages is likely to be important in personality development. In addition, each of our rearing environments resulted in different growth rates and age at sexual maturity yet these differences were not key drivers of the resulting behavioural differences we observed

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