Individual variation in stable behavioural traits may explain variation in ecologically relevant behaviours such as foraging, dispersal, anti-predator behaviour, and dominance. We investigated behavioural variation in mountain chickadees, a North American parid that lives in dominance-structured winter flocks, using two common measures of behavioural profile: exploration of a novel room and novel object exploration. We related those behavioural traits to dominance status in male chickadees following brief, pairwise encounters. Low-exploring birds (birds that visited less than four locations in the novel room) were significantly more likely to become dominant in brief, pairwise encounters with high-exploring birds (i.e. birds that visited all perching locations within a novel room). On the other hand, there was no relationship between novel object exploration and dominance. Interestingly, novel-room exploration was also not correlated with novel object exploration. These results suggest that behavioural profile may predict the social status of group-living individuals. Moreover, our results contradict the idea that novel object exploration and novel-room exploration are always interchangeable measures of individuals' sensitivity to environmental novelty.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology