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Personality remains: no effect of three-week social status experience on personality in male fowl
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6435-011X
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8621-6977
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Individuals often differ in behavior in a consistent way, i.e. show variation in personality. Understanding the processes explaining the emergence and maintenance of this variation is a major topic in the field of animal behavioral research. Recent theoretical models predict that differences in various 'states' can generate individual variation in behavior. Previous studies have mainly focused on endogenous states like metabolic rate or energy reserves, but theory also suggests that more complex states based on social interactions could play important roles in shaping personality. We have earlier demonstrated short-term status-dependent variation in behavior in the domestic fowl (Gallus gallus domesticus), but whether such behavioral variation remains also after a longer period of time, is unknown. Therefore, we examine the influence of social status on variation in behavior, using experimental manipulation of social status in pairs of male domestic fowl. We scored males in three personality assays (aggression test, novel arena test, novel object test) before and after three weeks in pairs as either dominant or subdominant. We found no support for social status acting as a state that generates variation in personality over this time interval: social status had no significant effect on behavioral responses in personality tests. Instead, we observed individual consistency of behavior despite alteration of social status. Our results suggest that the effect of social environment on behavior is dependent on context and time, and that personality is more important than current social situation for describing individual behavior in stable groups.

Keyword [en]
aggression, behavioral syndrome, chicken, comb size, Gallus gallus domesticus, social hierarchy
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142345OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-142345DiVA: diva2:1092238
Funder
Linköpings universitet, Future research leadersHelge Ax:son Johnsons stiftelse
Available from: 2017-05-02 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-05-17Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The relationship between personality and social dominance in the domestic fowl – a critical perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The relationship between personality and social dominance in the domestic fowl – a critical perspective
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social dominance relationships are formed within numerous animal species and reduce costly fights over resources. Dominant individuals often enjoy greater access to important resources such as food and mating partners, and are generally more aggressive, bold, active and explorative compared to subdominant individuals. These behavioural traits can differ among individuals, but they can also be consistent within the individual, thereby describing the individual’s personality type. However, the causal direction of the observed correlation between dominance and personality is not well studied. One possibility is that some personality types have higher chances of obtaining a dominant social position. This would suggest that personality has consequences for fitness. Another possible explanation is that possessing different social positions gives rise to consistent behavioural differences among individuals on various timescales. If social status has a lasting effect on behaviour, social status would constitute a ‘stable state’ that explains some of the diversity of personality types that has been observed in a multitude of animal species. Dominance and personality may also share underlying proximate factors. In this thesis, I investigate the relationship between social dominance and personality using male domestic fowl, Gallus gallus domesticus. The species is group-living with pronounced dominance hierarchies, and dominance increases male access to mating partners. I show that some aspects of personality, exploration, vigilance and in particular aggressiveness, increased a male’s chances of obtaining dominance (paper III, IV, V), and that aggressiveness can be even more important than body weight and ornament size (comb size, paper V) or recent experience of winning or losing (paper IV). Winning a social interaction resulted in an increase in aggressiveness, while a decrease was seen in males that experienced a loss (paper IV). By observing behaviour before and after changes in male dominance relationships, I further show that a recent (2 days earlier) change in social status induced behavioural adjustments to the new social status in activity, exploration and vigilance (paper I). By extending the time of the new social relationship to 3 weeks, I show that such behavioural changes did not continue (paper II). Finally, I show that the social environment during juvenile development had little impact on adult male competitiveness (paper V). Social interactions appear to have several short-term effects on behaviour, but did not contribute significantly to variation and long-term consistency of personality in male fowl. Instead, a male's personality, and in particular his aggressiveness, affected the outcome of dominance interactions. Overall, my studies reveal important consequences of individual differences in behaviour, and contribute to the highly sought-after empirical testing of hypotheses explaining variation in animal personality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2017. 63 p.
Keyword
aggression, behavioural syndromes, chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus, intra-sexual selection, resource holding potential, social hierarchy, social rank
National Category
Behavioral Sciences Biology
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-142348 (URN)978-91-7649-838-5 (ISBN)978-91-7649-839-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-06-16, sal E306, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript. Paper 5: Manuscript.

Available from: 2017-05-22 Created: 2017-05-02 Last updated: 2017-05-18Bibliographically approved

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