University of Oulu

Kaiser, A., Merckx, T. & Van Dyck, H. An experimental test of changed personality in butterflies from anthropogenic landscapes. Behav Ecol Sociobiol 74, 86 (2020).

An experimental test of changed personality in butterflies from anthropogenic landscapes

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Author: Kaiser, Aurélien1; Merckx, Thomas1,2; Van Dyck, Hans1
Organizations: 1Behavioural Ecology & Conservation Group, Earth & Life Institute, UCLouvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-06-17


During the last century, the human footprint on natural ecosystems has increased strongly and human-altered habitats such as urban and agricultural areas have extended globally. Despite their negative impacts on biodiversity, these habitats offer unique opportunities to study how native species respond to novel environmental conditions. Here, we studied phenotypic divergence associated with colonization of human-altered habitats in the Speckled wood (Pararge aegeria). We reared butterflies of woodland, urban and agricultural origins under common garden conditions and we measured boldness and activity at the adult stage. Both behavioural traits were repeatable at the individual level (i.e. personality traits), but we found weak evidence for ecotype-related differences in mean boldness and activity. In line with urban areas being stressful habitats, we found that boldness and activity traits correlate in urban butterflies, while we found no such syndrome in woodland and agricultural butterflies. Our results show that urbanization can alter some aspects of personality in an insect species, but they do not support the prediction that anthropogenic habitats favour boldness.

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Series: Behavioral ecology and sociobiology
ISSN: 0340-5443
ISSN-E: 1432-0762
ISSN-L: 0340-5443
Volume: 74
Article number: 86
DOI: 10.1007/s00265-020-02871-8
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: AK is a research fellow with the Belgian Fund of Scientific Research F.S.R.-FNRS. The research was supported by PDR grant FNRS PDR T.0188.14 and an ARC research grant of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and UCLouvain (ARC-grant 17/22–086) to HVD.
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Copyright information: © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. The final authenticated version is available online at: