Male personality, life-history strategies and reproductive success in a promiscuous mammal

D Réale, J Martin, D W Coltman, J Poissant, M Festa-Bianchet

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178 Citations (Scopus)


Recent theoretical work suggests that personality is a component of life history, but links between personality and either age-dependent reproductive success or life-history strategy are yet to be established. Using quantitative genetic analyses on a long-term pedigree we estimated indices of boldness and docility for 105 bighorn sheep rams (Ovis canadensis), born between 1983 and 1999, and compared these indices to their reproductive history from 2 years of age until death. Docility and boldness were highly heritable and negatively genetically correlated. Docile and bold rams survived longer than indocile and shy rams. Docility and boldness had a weak negative effect on reproductive success early in life, but a strong positive effect on older rams. Our findings highlight an important role of personality on reproductive success and suggest that personality could be an important component of life-history strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1599-1607
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number8
Early online date23 Jun 2009
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • bighorn sheep
  • boldness
  • docility
  • heritability
  • longevity
  • Ovis canadensis
  • predicted breeding values
  • temperament


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