A simple cage test captures intrinsic differences in aspects of personality across individuals in a passerine bird

Edward Kluen, Sylvia Kuhn, Bart Kempenaers, Jon Brommer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    Abstract

    Personality tests are best carried out in an artificial, standardized
    environment. There is a need to develop reliable approaches
    for testing wild individuals in a manner that minimizes harm or
    stress to individuals while allowing maximal flexibility (e.g.
    a portable set-up or short protocols) for researchers.We developed
    a behavioural assay of personality traits for a wild-caught bird
    placed in a standard bird cage, which takes approximately 15 min
    per assay. After 10 min acclimation, we quantified neophobiarelated
    behaviour (in terms of time spent in different parts of the
    cage), activity (movement through the cage by hops or short
    flights) and the time it took to escape from the cage after opening
    the cage door in 293 assays of 224 individual blue tits, Cyanistes
    caeruleus, carried out during three consecutive winters. Neophobiarelated
    behaviour and escape time were significantly repeatable
    and showed no annual or within-year temporal variation or
    differences between sexes or age classes. Escape time was associated
    with one of two single nucleotide polymorphisms in exon 3 of
    the DRD4 gene that we considered as candidates. This gene is the
    prime candidate for novelty-seeking behaviours and this genomic
    region has been found to associate with exploration score in the
    closely related great tit, Parus major.We conclude that our assay can
    capture repeatable and heritable differences in aspects of personality
    among wild individuals.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAnimal Behaviour
    Volume84
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)279-287
    Number of pages9
    ISSN0003-3472
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2012
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Fields of Science

    • 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
    • animal personality
    • blue tit
    • dopamine receptor gene DRD4
    • behavioural traits
    • cage experiment

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