To boldly go: individual differences in boldness influence migratory tendency

Ecol Lett. 2011 Sep;14(9):871-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01648.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1.


Partial migration, whereby only a fraction of the population migrates, is thought to be the most common type of migration in the animal kingdom, and can have important ecological and evolutionary consequences. Despite this, the factors that influence which individuals migrate and which remain resident are poorly understood. Recent work has shown that consistent individual differences in personality traits in animals can be ecologically important, but field studies integrating personality traits with migratory behaviour are extremely rare. In this study, we investigate the influence of individual boldness, an important personality trait, upon the migratory propensity of roach, a freshwater fish, over two consecutive migration seasons. We assay and individually tag 460 roach and show that boldness influences migratory propensity, with bold individuals being more likely to migrate than shy fish. Our data suggest that an extremely widespread personality trait in animals can have significant ecological consequences via influencing individual-level migratory behaviour.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Cyprinidae / physiology*
  • Seasons
  • Sweden