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Correlation between boldness and body mass in natural populations of the poeciliid Brachyrhaphis episcopi

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The boldness of individual Brachyrhaphis episcopi, collected from regions of high and low predation, was investigated using two independent assays: (1) the time to emerge from cover and (2) the propensity to leave shoal mates and investigate a novel object. A strong correlation between the two assays was revealed such that fish that emerged from shelter sooner were also more likely to approach a novel object. This is indicative of a boldness personality axis acting across both behavioural contexts. Fish from high-predation areas were bolder than those from low-predation areas and males were bolder than females. A significant correlation between body mass, standard length (LS) and boldness score was also found. In general, bold fish had a greater body mass at a given LS than shy fish. These results suggest that personality traits are strongly influenced by population-specific ecological variables and may have fitness consequences in wild populations.

Keywords: boldness; fitness; personality; poeciliids; predation pressure

Document Type: Regular Paper


Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, 2109, Australia 2: Institute of Evolutionary Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, EH9 3JT, U.K.

Publication date: December 1, 2007


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