MEPS 420:273-276 (2010)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08899

NOTE
‘Personality’ in two species of temperate damselfish

A. Cecilia Eriksson1, David J. Booth1, Peter A. Biro1,2,*

1Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales 2007, Australia
2Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales 2052, Australia
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The extent and importance of consistent individual differences in behaviour, often referred to as ‘personality’ or ‘temperament’, is a relatively recent question in ecology. It indicates that animal behaviour is much less flexible than usually assumed, and suggests that individuals consistently differ in the way they perceive and react to changes in the environment. There is evidence of animal personality in a wide variety of animal taxa, including many freshwater fish species, but there seems to be very little evidence for this phenomenon in marine fish. To address this paucity, we repeatedly measured 3 behavioural traits of 2 temperate marine damselfish species, Parma microlepis and P. unifasciata, over a 2 wk period. Consistent individual differences in boldness, aggressiveness and activity were observed in both species, but average levels of these traits did not differ between species. A correlation between personality traits was also observed, with bolder individuals also tending to be more aggressive. The existence of personality in marine fish has implications for practical issues such as sampling bias, vulnerability to harvest and links between personality and life-history traits that affect fitness.


KEY WORDS: Behaviour · Boldness · Longitudinal · Mixed model · Repeatability · Temperament


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Cite this article as: Eriksson AC, Booth DJ, Biro PA (2010) ‘Personality’ in two species of temperate damselfish. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 420:273-276. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08899

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