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Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution

Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution Temperament describes the idea that individual behavioural differences are repeatable over time and across situations. This common phenomenon covers numerous traits, such as aggressiveness, avoidance of novelty, willingness to take risks, exploration, and sociality. The study of temperament is central to animal psychology, behavioural genetics, pharmacology, and animal husbandry, but relatively few studies have examined the ecology and evolution of temperament traits. This situation is surprising, given that temperament is likely to exert an important influence on many aspects of animal ecology and evolution, and that individual variation in temperament appears to be pervasive amongst animal species. Possible explanations for this neglect of temperament include a perceived irrelevance, an insufficient understanding of the link between temperament traits and fitness, and a lack of coherence in terminology with similar traits often given different names, or different traits given the same name. We propose that temperament can and should be studied within an evolutionary ecology framework and provide a terminology that could be used as a working tool for ecological studies of temperament. Our terminology includes five major temperament trait categories: shyness‐boldness, exploration‐avoidance, activity, sociability and aggressiveness. This terminology does not make inferences regarding underlying dispositions or psychological processes, which may have restrained ecologists and evolutionary biologists from working on these traits. We present extensive literature reviews that demonstrate that temperament traits are heritable, and linked to fitness and to several other traits of importance to ecology and evolution. Furthermore, we describe ecologically relevant measurement methods and point to several ecological and evolutionary topics that would benefit from considering temperament, such as phenotypic plasticity, conservation biology, population sampling, and invasion biology. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biological Reviews Wiley

Integrating animal temperament within ecology and evolution

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References (256)

Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Wiley Subscription Services
ISSN
1464-7931
eISSN
1469-185X
DOI
10.1111/j.1469-185X.2007.00010.x
pmid
17437562
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Temperament describes the idea that individual behavioural differences are repeatable over time and across situations. This common phenomenon covers numerous traits, such as aggressiveness, avoidance of novelty, willingness to take risks, exploration, and sociality. The study of temperament is central to animal psychology, behavioural genetics, pharmacology, and animal husbandry, but relatively few studies have examined the ecology and evolution of temperament traits. This situation is surprising, given that temperament is likely to exert an important influence on many aspects of animal ecology and evolution, and that individual variation in temperament appears to be pervasive amongst animal species. Possible explanations for this neglect of temperament include a perceived irrelevance, an insufficient understanding of the link between temperament traits and fitness, and a lack of coherence in terminology with similar traits often given different names, or different traits given the same name. We propose that temperament can and should be studied within an evolutionary ecology framework and provide a terminology that could be used as a working tool for ecological studies of temperament. Our terminology includes five major temperament trait categories: shyness‐boldness, exploration‐avoidance, activity, sociability and aggressiveness. This terminology does not make inferences regarding underlying dispositions or psychological processes, which may have restrained ecologists and evolutionary biologists from working on these traits. We present extensive literature reviews that demonstrate that temperament traits are heritable, and linked to fitness and to several other traits of importance to ecology and evolution. Furthermore, we describe ecologically relevant measurement methods and point to several ecological and evolutionary topics that would benefit from considering temperament, such as phenotypic plasticity, conservation biology, population sampling, and invasion biology.

Journal

Biological ReviewsWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2007

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