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8 March 2023 Ecological and Fitness Correlates of Personality in a Long-Lived Terrestrial Turtle
John H. Roe, Maria S. Chavez, Abbie E. Hudson
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An individual's behavioral tendencies (i.e., personality or temperament) can influence its interactions with the environment and thus have important ecological and evolutionary consequences for animal populations. Boldness, defined as an individual's tendency to engage in risk-taking activities, is a phenotypically variable trait linked with numerous behavioral and fitness outcomes in free-ranging animals. We examined variation and repeatability of boldness and other behavioral characteristics in two wild Eastern Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) populations using radiotelemetry, and assessed fitness correlates of boldness over multiple years. We observed large amounts of among-individual variation and within-individual consistency (i.e., repeatability) of boldness as measured by their head emergence latency following a standardized confinement assay. Individuals were also consistent in several in-field behaviors including movement rate, home range size, and date of emergence from overwintering refuges. Individuals with shorter head emergence latencies (i.e., bolder turtles) had larger home ranges, emerged earlier from overwintering dormancy, and experienced moderately lower survival compared with shy individuals. Boldness did not affect time spent within the thermal preference range, somatic growth rates, or the frequency of mating or same-sex aggressive encounters. Boldness and its effects on in-field behaviors differed between sexes and populations, and the relationship between boldness and survival was temporally variable. Our results suggest possible intrinsic behavioral types in T. c. carolina and highlight the importance of long-term and multipopulation studies when examining ecological and evolutionary processes that shape personality phenotypes in turtles.

© 2023 by The Herpetologists' League, Inc.
John H. Roe, Maria S. Chavez, and Abbie E. Hudson "Ecological and Fitness Correlates of Personality in a Long-Lived Terrestrial Turtle," Herpetologica 79(1), 9-21, (8 March 2023).
Accepted: 7 October 2022; Published: 8 March 2023
Behavioral type
Eastern box turtle
home range
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