Behavioural modification of personality traits: testing the effect of a trematode on nymphs of the red damselfly Xanthocnemis zealandica
Research on animal personality is increasingly demonstrating that individuals in a population are characterised by distinct sets of behavioural traits that show consistency over time and across different situations. Parasites are known to alter the behaviour of their hosts, although their role in shaping host personality remains little studied. Here, we test the effect of trematode infection on two traits of their host’s personality, activity and boldness, in nymphs of the red damselfly Xanthocnemis zealandica. Genetic analyses indicate that the undescribed trematode species falls within the superfamily Microphalloidea. Results of laboratory behavioural tests indicate that the two behavioural traits are related to each other: bolder individuals also show higher levels of spontaneous activity than shy ones. However, parasite infection had no effect on either of these behaviours or on their repeatability over three separate testing sessions. Although our findings suggest that this trematode does not influence personality traits of the damselfly host, it remains possible that other standard personality traits not tested here (exploratory tendency, aggressiveness) are affected by infection.
KeywordsBehavioural modification Trematodes Repeatability Host-parasite interactions Animal personality
We thank Pierre Magnan and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) CREATE-ÉcoLac grant for logistical support and funding. We also thank Olwyn Friesen and Riku Rinnevalli for field and laboratory support.
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