Repeatable aversion across threat types is linked with life-history traits but is dependent on how aversion is measured

Thumbnail Image
Davidson, Gabrielle L.
Reichert, Michael S.
Crane, Jodie M. S.
O'Shea, William
Quinn, John L.
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The Royal Society
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Personality research suggests that individual differences in risk aversion may be explained by links with life-history variation. However, few empirical studies examine whether repeatable differences in risk avoidance behaviour covary with life-history traits among individuals in natural populations, or how these links vary depending on the context and the way risk aversion is measured. We measured two different risk avoidance behaviours (latency to enter the nest and inspection time) in wild great tits (Parus major) in two different contexts-response to a novel object and to a predator cue placed at the nest-box during incubation-and related these behaviours to female reproductive success and condition. Females responded equally strongly to both stimuli, and although both behaviours were repeatable, they did not correlate. Latency to enter was negatively related to body condition and the number of offspring fledged. By contrast, inspection time was directly explained by whether incubating females had been flushed from the nest before the trial began. Thus, our inferences on the relationship between risk aversion and fitness depend on how risk aversion was measured. Our results highlight the limitations of drawing conclusions about the relevance of single measures of a personality trait such as risk aversion.
Personality , Gaze aversion , Risk-taking , Great tits , Body condition , Life history
Davidson, G. L., Reichert, M. S., Crane, J. M. S., O'Shea, W. and Quinn, J. L. (2018) 'Repeatable aversion across threat types is linked with life-history traits but is dependent on how aversion is measured', Royal Society Open Science, 5(2), 172218 (13pp). doi: 10.1098/rsos.172218