Context Consistency and Seasonal Variation in Boldness of Male Two-Spotted Gobies
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPLoS ONE 2014, 9(3) 10.1371/journal.pone.0093354
In order to attribute the behaviour of an animal to its personality it is important to study whether certain behavioural traits show up consistently across a variety of contexts. The aim of this study was to investigate whether breeding state males of the two-spotted goby, Gobiusculus flavescens, showed consistent degree of boldness when tested in four different behaviour assays. We also wanted to investigate whether boldness varied over the breeding season in accordance with changes in male-male competition for matings. We used two standard assays (the emergence test and the open field test), and two simple assays related to threat response. Repeated runs of each of the tests were highly correlated, and we found significant correlations between all four assays. Thus, we have documented both a within and a between-context consistency in risk-taking behaviour. Furthermore, we found that goby males studied during the middle of the breeding season were bolder than males studied at the end of the season. Since male two-spotted gobies face strongly decreasing male-male competition as the season progresses, the benefit of being bold for the mating success of the males may differ over the time of the breeding season. The difference in behaviour found over the season thus corresponds well with the sexual dynamics of this model species.