Is behavioural plasticity consistent across different environmental gradients and through time?

Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

Published: 2017-08-16

DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0893

Affiliations: 1

Authors: 2

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Research Highlight

Stripy fish reveal their personalities

© borchee/E+/Getty

© borchee/E+/Getty

Zebrafish exhibit reactions to changes in temperature and food scarcity that are individually consistent through time.

An animal’s response to environmental changes is known as behavioural plasticity, but it is not clear whether individuals respond in the same way to changes in different environmental variables. To test this, researchers from Deakin University studied how much the movements of around 50 zebrafish changed in response first to changing temperatures and then to food deprivation. They found that fish that were more affected by temperature changes did not show the most dramatic response to food deprivation, inferring no clear relation between an individual’s sensitivity to these two variables.

The team repeated the experiment and found that the response of each zebrafish stayed the same. They suggest that this is evidence of ‘animal personality’ whereby individual behavioural differences are maintained through time.

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  1. Proc. Royal. Soc. B 284, 20170893 (2017). doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0893
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Deakin University, Australia 1