The interplay between animal personality and sexual selection

Project leader: Eva Ringler

PhD student: Mélissa Peignier

Collaborators: Max Ringler, Yimen Araya-Ajoy, Virginie Canoine, Patrick Walsh

Funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) via the Projects P24788, T699, and P31518.

Consistent individual differences in behaviour have been documented across a wide range of taxa, including species with very simple nervous systems, such as sea anemones and hermit crabs. At the same time, these behavioural differences are expected to have dramatic effects on an individual’s fate - in terms of produced offspring and own chances of survival. Previous research has mainly focused on the response of single individuals to changes in their environment or to specific test conditions. However, most behaviour in the context of reproduction and survival is expressed in a social context, with two or more individuals involved. In our project “The interplay between animal personality and sexual selection” we investigate how personality differences are reflected in behaviours such as male-male competition and space use, mate choice, and parental care; and how these differences ultimately affect an individual’s survival and reproductive performance. The project focuses on our model species Allobates femoralis, a Neotropical poison frog with a prolonged breeding season, pronounced male territoriality, and male parental care. The study is carried out in an experimental island population in French Guiana, which offers us the ability to monitor, assay, and track an entire animal population in its natural habitat in an island setup over several generations. By identifying respective costs and benefits of specific personality profiles, the findings of this project will help us to better understand how behavioural variation can persist over evolutionary time.

The interplay between animal personality and sexual selection