Behaviour in captivity predicts some aspects of natural behaviour, but not others, in a wild cricket population

David N Fisher, Adele James, Rolando Rodríguez-Muñoz, Tom Tregenza

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57 Citations (Scopus)
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Examining the relevance of ‘animal personality’ involves linking consistent among- and within-individual behavioural variation to fitness in the wild. Studies aiming to do this typically assay personality in captivity and rely on the assumption that measures of traits in the laboratory reflect their expression in nature. We examined this rarely tested assumption by comparing laboratory and field measurements of the behaviour of wild field crickets (Gryllus campestris) by continuously monitoring individual behaviour in nature, and repeatedly capturing the same individuals and measuring their behaviour in captivity. We focused on three traits that are frequently examined in personality studies: shyness, activity and exploration. All of them showed repeatability in the laboratory. Laboratory activity and exploration predicted the expression of their equivalent behaviours in the wild, but shyness did not. Traits in the wild were predictably influenced by environmental factors such as temperature and sunlight, but only activity showed appreciable within-individual repeatability. This suggests that some behaviours typically studied as personality traits can be accurately assayed in captivity, but the expression of others may be highly context-specific. Our results highlight the importance of validating the relevance of laboratory behavioural assays to analogous traits measured in the wild.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20150708
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1809
Early online date22 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding was provided by NERC and Leverhulme Trust grants. Further support came from the University of Exeter's Postgraduate Research Enhancement Fund, awarded to D.N.F.


  • Gryllus
  • Evolution
  • Behaviour


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