Very few studies have evaluated whether habitat disturbance affects behavioral consistency and plasticity. We measured shyness–boldness and exploration–avoidance for the first time in naked-footed mice (Peromyscus nudipes) in two adjacent habitats with differing level of disturbance in Costa Rica. Each habitat was measured in different, consecutive years. With these data, we explored the possibility of habitat differences in individual- and population-level behavioral plasticity, magnitude of behavior, and consistency. Mice in both habitats behaved consistently across time with high repeatability (i.e., showed personality). The strength of consistency of shyness–boldness and exploration–avoidance over time was higher in the disturbed habitat, and individuals in the undisturbed habitat were bolder and less exploratory. Behaviors were correlated with each other in both habitats, indicating that behavioral syndromes do not always break down in disturbed areas. Mice changed the magnitude of their response the second time they were tested, indicating population-level plasticity. There was also greater individual plasticity among mice in the undisturbed habitat. Our study suggests the possibility that habitat disturbance can affect behavioral plasticity and personality and that shyer/more exploratory individuals might colonize and/or persist in disturbed habitats. These results are preliminary and exploratory because we did not control for temporal differences between habitats.
Journal of Ethology – Springer Journals
Published: May 9, 2017
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