Changes in dominance status erode personality and behavioral syndromes

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    The interplay between consistent individual differences in behavior (i.e., animal personality) and behavioral plasticity has recently attracted increased interest. We used male Australian field crickets (Teleogryllus oceanicus) to investigate how dominance status influences the consistency and plasticity of different personality traits, namely boldness, exploration, and activity, by experimentally manipulating dominance status between measuring sessions. We found that dominants that became subordinate when socially challenged, shifted their behavior, becoming less bold, explorative, and active, whereas subordinates that became dominant, became bolder, more explorative, and more active. Individuals that experienced no change in dominance status did not alter their behavior. Changes in dominance status reduced the repeatability of the putative personality traits of exploration and activity while not affecting the repeatability of boldness. Moreover, changes in dominance status affected the presence of correlations between some personality traits, but not others. Finally, calling behavior was related to current and future dominance and explorative tendencies. We discuss the broader evolutionary and ecological implications of our findings and propose that changes in social status should be considered when investigating behavioral syndromes and the interplay between animal personality and behavioral plasticity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)270-279
    Number of pages10
    JournalBehavioral Ecology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


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