Competition between animal species can cause niche partitioning and shape an individual's phenotype, including its behaviour. However, little is known about effects of interspecific competition on personality, the among-individual variation in behaviour that is consistent across different spatial and temporal contexts. We investigated whether alien grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) influenced the expression of personality traits in native red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). In Italy, alien grey squirrels replaced native reds through competition for food resources and space, reducing breeding and recruitment in the native species. We compared personality of red squirrels in red-only (no interspecific competition) and red-grey (with interspecific competition) sites, using arena-tests. The trait activity was measured by Open Field Test while sociability and avoidance were quantified by Mirror Image Stimulation test. Red squirrels co-occurring with the alien species had higher sociability scores and higher between-individual variation in sociability than in red-only sites. Differences in activity and avoidance were not significant. Personality - fitness relationships were not affected by presence or absence of grey squirrels, suggesting that the expression of sociability in red squirrels was not due to short-term selection, but was likely the result of context-related advantages when co-occurring with the competing species.

Interspecific competition affects the expression of personality-traits in natural populations

Wauters, Lucas A;Mazzamuto, Maria Vittoria;Santicchia, Francesca;Preatoni, Damiano G
;
Martinoli, Adriano
2019

Abstract

Competition between animal species can cause niche partitioning and shape an individual's phenotype, including its behaviour. However, little is known about effects of interspecific competition on personality, the among-individual variation in behaviour that is consistent across different spatial and temporal contexts. We investigated whether alien grey squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis) influenced the expression of personality traits in native red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris). In Italy, alien grey squirrels replaced native reds through competition for food resources and space, reducing breeding and recruitment in the native species. We compared personality of red squirrels in red-only (no interspecific competition) and red-grey (with interspecific competition) sites, using arena-tests. The trait activity was measured by Open Field Test while sociability and avoidance were quantified by Mirror Image Stimulation test. Red squirrels co-occurring with the alien species had higher sociability scores and higher between-individual variation in sociability than in red-only sites. Differences in activity and avoidance were not significant. Personality - fitness relationships were not affected by presence or absence of grey squirrels, suggesting that the expression of sociability in red squirrels was not due to short-term selection, but was likely the result of context-related advantages when co-occurring with the competing species.
Wauters, Lucas A; Mazzamuto, Maria Vittoria; Santicchia, Francesca; Van Dongen, Stefan; Preatoni, Damiano G; Martinoli, Adriano
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/2080348
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