Environmental stressors alter relationships between physiology and behaviour

Trends Ecol Evol. 2013 Nov;28(11):651-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 Jun 5.


Although correlations have frequently been observed between specific physiological and behavioural traits across a range of animal taxa, the nature of these associations has been shown to vary. Here we argue that a major source of this inconsistency is the influence of environmental stressors, which seem capable of revealing, masking, or modulating covariation in physiological and behavioural traits. These effects appear to be mediated by changes in the observed variation of traits and differential sensitivity to stressors among phenotypes. Considering that wild animals routinely face a range of biotic and abiotic stressors, increased knowledge of these effects is imperative for understanding the causal mechanisms of a range of ecological phenomena and evolutionary responses to stressors associated with environmental change.

Keywords: aerobic scope; environmental change; intraspecific variation; metabolic rate; personality; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal* / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Environment*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Phenotype*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*