Journal of Ethology

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 363–370 | Cite as

Behavioural and physiological correlates of personality in greylag geese (Anser anser)

  • Simona Kralj-Fišer
  • Brigitte M. Weiß
  • Kurt Kotrschal
Article

Abstract

Personality means suites of correlated behavioural traits, also referred to as “behavioural syndromes” or “personality dimensions”. Across animal taxa similar combinations of traits seem to prevail, which may have proximate foundation in common neuroendocrine mechanisms. Hitherto, these have been rarely studied in intact social settings. We investigated personalities of greylag goose males from a free-roaming flock that shows complex social relationships. In connection with our longitudinal study on the consistency of behavioural and physiological responses to multiple challenges, we asked whether and how single, personality-related behavioural traits correlate with each other to form personality dimension(s). We tested whether these dimensions were related to physiological characteristics that previously showed limited plasticity (heart rate (HR), baseline and stress-induced excreted immuno-reactive corticosterone (BM), and testosterone metabolites levels) and, furthermore, to age, body measures, and dominance rank. Principal-components analysis based on behavioural variables revealed two factors: 51.1% of variability was explained by “aggressiveness” and a further 19.1% by “sociability”. “Aggressiveness” comprised correlated measures of aggression, subordinance, boldness, vigilance, and proximity to the mate. This “aggressiveness” positively correlated with stress-induced BM levels, the HR increase during aggressive interactions, and with dominance rank, which may suggest proximate and functional contingencies of this personality dimension.

Keywords

Aggressiveness Behavioural syndromes Corticosterone Dominance Heart rate Personality Sociability 

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Copyright information

© Japan Ethological Society and Springer 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simona Kralj-Fišer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brigitte M. Weiß
    • 1
    • 3
  • Kurt Kotrschal
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle für EthologieGrünauAustria
  2. 2.Jovan Hadži Institute of BiologyScientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and ArtsLjubljanaSlovenia
  3. 3.Institut de BiologieUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  4. 4.Department for Behavioural BiologyUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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