News and Perspectives


, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 309-314

First online:

Are shy individuals less behaviorally variable? Insights from a captive population of mouse lemurs

  • Jennifer L. VerdolinAffiliated withNational Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) Email author 
  • , John HarperAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State UniversityDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds

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Increasingly, individual variation in personality has become a focus of behavioral research in animal systems. Boldness and shyness, often quantified as the tendency to explore novel situations, are seen as personality traits important to the fitness landscape of individuals. Here we tested for individual differences within and across contexts in behavioral responses of captive mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) to novel objects, novel foods, and handling. We report consistent differences in behavioral responses for objects and handling. We also found that the responses to handling and novel objects were correlated and repeatable. Lastly, we show that shyer individuals may show less variability in their behavioral responses. This study provides new information on the potential for behavioral syndromes in this species and highlights differences in the degree to which behavioral types (e.g., shy/bold) vary in their behavioral responses.


Boldness Novel object Personality Behavioral repeatability Temperament