Environment-dependence of behavioural consistency in adult male European green lizards (Lacerta viridis)

Gergely Horváth, Boglárka Mészáros, Tamás János Urszán, Katalin Bajer, Orsolya Molnár, László Zsolt Garamszegi, G. Herczeg

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Understanding the background mechanisms affecting the emergence and maintenance of consistent between-individual variation within population in single (animal personality) or across multiple (behavioural syndrome) behaviours has key importance. State-dependence theory suggests that behaviour is ‘anchored’ to individual state (e.g. body condition, gender, age) and behavioural consistency emerges through behavioural-state feedbacks. A number of relevant state variables are labile (e.g. body condition, physiological performance) and expected to be affected by short-term environmental change. Yet, whether short-term environmental shifts affect behavioural consistency during adulthood remains questionable. Here, by employing a full-factorial laboratory experiment, we explored if quantity of food (low vs. high) and time available for thermoregulation (3h vs. 10h per day) had an effect on activity and risk-taking of reproductive adult male European green lizards (Lacerta viridis). We focussed on different components of behavioural variation: (i) strength of behavioural consistency (repeatability for animal personality; between-individual correlation for behavioural syndrome), (ii) behavioural type (individual mean behaviour) and (iii) behavioural predictability (within-individual behavioural variation). Activity was repeatable in all treatments. Risk-taking was repeatable only in the low basking treatments. We found significant between-individual correlation only in the low food × long basking time group. The treatments did not affect behavioural type, but affected behavioural predictability. Activity predictability was higher in the short basking treatment, where it also decreased with size ( age). Risk-taking predictability in the short basking treatment increased with size under food limitation, but decreased when food supply was high. We conclude that short-term environmental change can alter various components of behavioural consistency. The effect could be detected in the presence/absence patterns of animal personality and behavioural syndrome and the level of individual behavioural predictability, but not in behavioural type.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0187657
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Horváth, G., Mészáros, B., Urszán, T. J., Bajer, K., Molnár, O., Garamszegi, L. Z., & Herczeg, G. (2017). Environment-dependence of behavioural consistency in adult male European green lizards (Lacerta viridis). PLoS One, 12(11), [e0187657]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187657