Growth-mortality tradeoffs and 'personality traits' in animals

Ecol Lett. 2007 May;10(5):355-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2007.01034.x.


Consistent individual differences in boldness, reactivity, aggressiveness, and other 'personality traits' in animals are stable within individuals but vary across individuals, for reasons which are currently obscure. Here, I suggest that consistent individual differences in growth rates encourage consistent individual differences in behavior patterns that contribute to growth-mortality tradeoffs. This hypothesis predicts that behavior patterns that increase both growth and mortality rates (e.g. foraging under predation risk, aggressive defense of feeding territories) will be positively correlated with one another across individuals, that selection for high growth rates will increase mean levels of potentially risky behavior across populations, and that within populations, faster-growing individuals will take more risks in foraging contexts than slower-growing individuals. Tentative empirical support for these predictions suggests that a growth-mortality perspective may help explain some of the consistent individual differences in behavioral traits that have been reported in fish, amphibians, reptiles, and other animals with indeterminate growth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Growth*
  • Mortality*
  • Personality*