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Ain’t going down without a fight: state-and environment-dependence of antipredator defensive aggressive personalities in Carpetan rock lizard

AuthorsHorváth, Gergely; Martín Rueda, José CSIC ORCID ; López Martínez, Pilar CSIC ORCID ; Herczeg, Gábor
KeywordsAnimal personality
Behavioural type
Antipredator aggression
Individual morphology
Issue Date20-Oct-2020
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 74: 139 (2020)
AbstractAggression is one of the most frequently studied behavioural traits across a wide range of taxa; however, most studies evaluate aggressive behaviour in a social context, in which aggressive interactions between conspecifics are motivated by resource control (offensive or social aggression). However, in an antipredator context, the primary role of aggression is defence (defensive or antipredator aggression). Although the neuroendocrinology of antipredator aggression is often studied in domesticated and laboratory animals, how environment and individual state affect this behavioural trait in the wild is largely unknown. Here, by conducting a manipulative experiment, we tested whether (i) consistent between-individual differences (i.e. animal personality) are present in antipredator aggression in adult male Carpetan rock lizards (Iberolacerta cyreni) and (ii) short-term environmental changes (presence vs. absence of predator cues) and differences in individual state (body length, head size, hind limb length) affect individual mean behaviour (i.e. behavioural type). We found moderate-high repeatability in antipredator aggression (willingness to bite a human), indicating the presence of animal personality in this behavioural trait. Lizards were on average more defensive in the presence of predator cues; furthermore, short-legged males showed higher antipredator aggression than long-legged males in the presence of predator cues, probably as an attempt to balance their decreased escape speed. Larger (~ older) males were more defensive than smaller ones, probably due to their increased fighting ability. We conclude that antipredator aggression is an important part of an individual’s behavioural repertoire and its expression is driven by both environmental situation and individual state.
Publisher version (URL)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-020-02922-0
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