You Are What You Eat: The Interplay Between Animal Personality and Foraging Ecology

  • Sandra M. Troxell-Smith
  • Valentina S. A. Mella


Foraging animals face a constant dilemma—balancing the need to acquire food without putting themselves at risk. Individuals within a population vary in personality, and as a consequence they differ in how they perceive, interpret, and respond to foraging choices. Despite the inherent necessity for animals to acquire food, and thus direct link to fitness, the interplay between foraging and animal personality has received little attention. In this chapter, we first summarize studies that have integrated animal personality and foraging decisions in wild and captive populations, then highlight research deficiencies and suggest future research opportunities to unite the study of personality and foraging ecology. We also introduce and discuss patch-use theory as a specific research methodology that may help to facilitate future assessment of individual foraging differences. We believe that further investigation into the influence of personality on individual foraging decisions is key to understanding a valuable and largely understudied aspect of overall animal success and the ecological consequences of personality.


Foraging ecology Animal personality Individual differences Foraging decisions Captive species Wild species Giving-up density/GUD 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra M. Troxell-Smith
    • 1
  • Valentina S. A. Mella
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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