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Personality matters: individual variation in reactions of naive bird predators to aposematic prey

Exnerová, A. and Hotova Svadova, K. and Fucikova, E. and Drent, P. and Stys, P. (2010) Personality matters: individual variation in reactions of naive bird predators to aposematic prey. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 277, 723-728. ISSN 0962-8452.

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Variation in reactions to aposematic prey is common among conspecific individuals of bird predators. It may result from different individual experience but it also exists among naive birds. This variation may possibly be explained by the effect of personality—a complex of correlated, heritable behavioural traits consistent across contexts. In the great tit (Parus major), two extreme personality types have been defined. ‘Fast’ explorers are bold, aggressive and routine-forming; ‘slow’ explorers are shy, non-aggressive and innovative. Influence of personality type on unlearned reaction to aposematic prey, rate of avoidance learning and memory were tested in naive, hand-reared great tits from two opposite lines selected for exploration (slow against fast). The birds were subjected to a sequence of trials in which they were offered aposematic adult firebugs (Pyrrhocoris apterus). Slow birds showed a greater degree of unlearned wariness and learned to avoid the firebugs faster than fast birds. Although birds of both personality types remembered their experience, slow birds were more cautious in the memory test. We conclude that not only different species but also populations of predators that differ in proportions of personality types may have different impacts on survival of aposematic insects under natural conditions.

Item Type:Article
Institutes:Nederlands Instituut voor Ecologie (NIOO)
ID Code:12498
Deposited On:31 Jul 2012 14:07
Last Modified:22 Aug 2013 11:54

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