Social personality trait and fitness

Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Dec 22;275(1653):2851-8. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2008.0783.


Several recent studies have explored various aspects of animal personality and their ecological consequences. However, the processes responsible for the maintenance of personality variability within a population are still largely unknown. We have recently demonstrated that social personality traits exist in the common lizard (Lacerta vivipara) and that the variation in sociability provides an explanation for variable dispersal responses within a given species. However, we need to know the fitness consequences of variation in sociability across environmental contexts in order to better understand the maintenance of such variation. In order to achieve this, we investigated the relationship between sociability and survival, body growth and fecundity, in one-year-old individuals in semi-natural populations with varying density. 'Asocial' and 'social' lizards displayed different fitness outcomes in populations of different densities. Asocial lizards survived better in low-density populations, while social females reproduced better. Spatiotemporal variation in environmental conditions might thus be the process underlying the maintenance of these personality traits within a population. Finally, we also discuss the position of sociability in a more general individual behavioural pattern including boldness, exploration and aggressiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Female
  • Lizards / growth & development
  • Lizards / physiology*
  • Male
  • Population Density
  • Reproduction
  • Social Behavior*