Experience during development triggers between-individual variation in behavioural plasticity

Tamás János Urszán, László Zsolt Garamszegi, Gergely Nagy, Attila Hettyey, J. Török, G. Herczeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Behavioural consistency within and across behaviours (animal personality and behavioural syndrome, respectively) has been vigorously studied in the last decade, leading to the emergence of “animal personality” research. It has been proposed recently that not only mean behaviour (behavioural type), but the environmentally induced behavioural change (behavioural plasticity) might also differ between individuals within populations. While case studies presenting between-individual variation in behavioural plasticity have started to accumulate, the mechanisms behind its emergence are virtually unknown. We have recently demonstrated that ecologically relevant environmental stimuli during ontogeny are necessary for the development of animal personality and behavioural syndromes. However, it is unknown whether between-individual variation in behavioural plasticity is hard-wired or induced. Here, we tested whether experience with predation during development affected predator-induced behavioural plasticity in Rana dalmatina tadpoles. We ran a common garden experiment with two ontogenetic predation treatments: tadpoles developed from hatching in either the presence or absence of olfactory predator stimuli. Then, we assayed all tadpoles repeatedly for activity and risk-taking both in the absence and presence of olfactory predator stimuli. We found that (a) between-individual variation in predator-induced behavioural plasticity was present only in the group that developed in the presence of olfactory stimuli from predators and (b) previous experience with predatory stimuli resulted in lower plastic response at the group level. The latter pattern resulted from increased between-individual variation and not from universally lower individual responses. We also found that experience with predation during development increased the predictability (i.e. decreased the within-individual variation unrelated to environmental change) of activity, but not risk-taking. In line with this, tadpoles developing under perceived predatory risk expressed their activity with higher repeatability. We suggest that ecologically relevant environmental stimuli are not only fundamental for the development of animal personality and behavioural syndromes, but also for individual variation in behavioural plasticity. Thus, experience is of central importance for the emergence of individual behavioural variation at many levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1273
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Animal Ecology
Volume87
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018

Keywords

  • animal personality
  • behavioural plasticity
  • predation
  • Rana dalmatina
  • tadpole

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Experience during development triggers between-individual variation in behavioural plasticity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this