Individual behaviour in firebugs (Pyrrhocoris apterus)

  • Gyuris E
  • Feró O
  • Tartally A
 et al. 
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The concept of animal personalities has recently become of major interest as researchers began to wonder why animals within a given population show consistent behaviour across situations and contexts, what led to the evolution of such behavioural inflexibility and what mechanisms might underlie the phenomenon. A recent model explains individual differences in a population as the result of trade-off between present and future reproduction. We tested this model on the two wing morphs, i.e. short-winged (brachypterous) and long-winged (macropterous) specimens of the firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus). Since it has been already demonstrated that the two wing morphs differ in their life-history strategies, this species is an ideal subject to test whether the specimens with different life-history strategies have different personalities as well. The results show that individuals behave consistently over time and across contexts, meaning observed bugs do have personalities. We also have found that in females, the two wing morphs have different personalities supporting the theoretical predictions, i.e. winged ones, which are supposed to have lower future reproductive value, are braver and more exploratory. We found no difference between the morphs in males. Differences in reproductive investment might explain this discrepancy between the sexes.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Animal personality
  • Firebug
  • Life history
  • Male-female differences
  • Wing dimorphism

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  • Eniko Gyuris

  • Orsolya Feró

  • András Tartally

  • Zoltán Barta

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