Even Birds have Personalities – Studies reveal boldness in albatross

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You might be forgiven for thinking that only “persons” have personalities. But recent research by individuals from the University of Gloucestershire shows that not only do some seabird species have personalities, some of these bird-personality traits in young birds could have been inherited from their parents.

Wandering albatrosses can live for 50 years or more and, as their name suggests, wander the world’s oceans travelling vast distances in search of food.

They come to land only to breed and it is while on land that University of Gloucestershire Research Fellow Dr Samantha Patrick and colleagues at CNRS, France studied an important personality trait in these birds – boldness.

 

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By measuring the response of hundreds of birds to “human approach” (a researcher walking slowly up to the nest), Patrick and colleagues were able to show that some birds are bolder than others and that boldness is a repeatable measure – in other words, bold birds on one trial remained bold birds in subsequent trials.

By carrying out their research over several years they were able to show that bold birds had bold offspring, and that shy birds had shy offspring.

Interestingly their data also showed that individuals get less bold as they get older (something that humans can perhaps relate to) and that females are generally bolder than males.

Dr Samantha Patrick said:  “We are being made more and more aware that it’s not just humans that have individual differences.”

“For wandering albatross, which can undertake foraging trips of over 10,000km, learning more about inherited personality differences is a great step forward in understanding what these amazing creatures do when they are at sea. “

You can read more about Dr Patrick’s findings in her paper which is published today (November 15) in Ecology and Evolution: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.748/abstract

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