Section 54
Chapter 53,477

Handling stress does not reflect personality in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)

David, M.; Auclair, Y.; Dechaume-Moncharmont, F.ço.-X.; Cézilly, F.

Journal of Comparative Psychology 126(1): 10-14


ISSN/ISBN: 1939-2087
PMID: 21767006
DOI: 10.1037/a0024636
Accession: 053476852

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Although increasing attention is given to both the causes and consequences of variation in animal personality, the measurement of personality in captive or free-ranging individuals remains an issue. In particular, one important question concerns whether personality should be established from the existence of complex behavioral syndromes (a suite of correlated behavioral traits) or could be more easily deduced from a single variable. In that context, it has recently been suggested that handling stress, measured through breathing rate during handling, could be a good descriptor of personality, at least in passerine birds. The authors experimentally investigated to what extent handling stress was correlated with personality in female zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), as assessed from a suite of repeatable behavioral traits, including activity, exploratory behavior, neophobia, and reaction to startle. Although breathing rate was repeatable across individuals, it was not related to any behavioral trait, suggesting that it cannot be used to quickly predict personality, at least in zebra finches. Breathing rate during handling, in addition, was related to morphology, questioning the fact that breathing rate during handling reflects personality irrespective of individual state. The authors suggest that inference on global personality from a reduced number of traits should be performed with caution.

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