The Assessment of Repeatable Behavior and Personalities in Juvenile Cottonmouths

Medley, Kenzie

Greene, Brian D.

Department of Biology

Missouri State University Springfield, Missouri, USA

Behavioral ecologists have traditionally assumed that populations adapt to environmental conditions with one or more optimal strategies. However, recent evidence has shown that behavioral tendencies often vary consistently within individuals and are therefore analogous to personality traits. These pervasive behavioral tendencies, or behavioral syndromes, have been characterized in diverse taxa, including all vertebrate classes and many invertebrate animals. However, the taxonomic scope of behavioral syndromes and their various ecological consequences have been evaluated for few taxa. The objectives of this study are to 1) evaluating the consistency of individual responses across two ecologically relevant contexts: assertiveness (represented by foraging behavior) and boldness (represented by the defensive behavior of individuals toward a predator), as well as the repeatability of behaviors related to temperature, and 2) assess possible structures of behavioral syndromes involving repeatable behaviors by determining correlations between the behavioral and thermal responses previously mentioned.. Our data suggests high levels of individual repeatability in terms of boldness, assertiveness, and thermal performance, but low repeatability was calculated for thermal preference. Further statistical analysis is needed to assess the structures of possible behavioral syndromes.

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