Individual consistency in exploratory behaviour and mating tactics in male guppies

Jennifer Kelley, S.C. Phillips, Jon Evans

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    11 Citations (Scopus)


    While behavioural plasticity is considered an adaptation to fluctuating social and environmental conditions, many animals also display a high level of individual consistency in their behaviour over time or across contexts (generally termed 'personality'). However, studies of animal personalities that include sexual behaviour, or functionally distinct but correlated traits, are relatively scarce. In this study, we tested for individual behavioural consistency in courtship and exploratory behaviour in male guppies (Poecilia reticulata) in two light environments (high vs. low light intensity). Based on previous work on guppies, we predicted that males would modify their behaviour from sneak mating tactics to courtship displays under low light conditions, but also that the rank orders of courtship effort would remain unchanged (i.e. highly sexually active individuals would display relatively high levels of courtship under both light regimes). We also tested for correlations between courtship and exploratory behaviour, predicting that males that had high display rates would also be more likely to approach a novel object. Although males showed significant consistency in their exploratory and mating behaviour over time (1 week), we found no evidence that these traits constituted a behavioural syndrome. Furthermore, in contrast to previous work, we found no overall effect of the light environment on any of the behaviours measured, although males responded to the treatment on an individual-level basis, as reflected by a significant individual-by-environment interaction. The future challenge is to investigate how individual consistency across different environmental contexts relates to male reproductive success. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)965-974
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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