Consistent individual variations in aggressiveness and a behavioral syndrome across breeding contexts in different environments in the Black-tailed Gull
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- Kazama, K., Niizuma, Y. & Watanuki, Y. J Ethol (2012) 30: 279. doi:10.1007/s10164-011-0324-7
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Individual behaviors of animals do not evolve separately; they do so in association with other behaviors caused by single shared genetic or physiological constraints and/or favored by selection. Thus, measuring behavioral syndromes—suites of correlated behaviors across different contexts—leads to a better understanding of the adaptive significance of variations in behaviors. However, relatively few studies have examined behavioral syndromes in wild animal populations in changing environments. We investigated a potential behavioral syndrome across antipredator nest defense, territorial defense, chick provisioning, and mating behaviors of male Black-tailed Gulls Larus crassirostris in two successive years under different conspecific territorial intrusion risks and food conditions. Males that presented high levels of antipredator nest defense (aggressive antipredator defenders) against a crow decoy (crows are egg predators) defended their territories against conspecific intruders more frequently than did other males (nonaggressive antipredator defenders), independent of the risk of intrusion. Aggressive antipredator defenders also fed their chicks more frequently than nonaggressive males, but only in a year of low food availability. Taken together, this indicates that males show consistent aggressiveness regardless of breeding context (antipredator and territorial defense), but can regulate food provisioning according to food availability.