Theoretical Ecology Group

Institutt for biologi
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PhD Student, MSc
Camilla Håkonsrud Jensen

Personality and Parasites

Animal personality is usually defined as behaviour that varies among individuals, but that are consistent and predictable over time and across different situations within an individual (Barber & Dingemanse, 2010; Kortet et al., 2010). Research so far has found that personalities have variation (e.g. Bell et al., 2009), some heritability (e.g. van Oers et al., 2004) and that different personality traits seems to have different advantages (or fitness differences) in the competition among individuals (e.g. Wielebnowski, 1999), and when all these conditions are met we expect evolution. But the evolution and maintenance of personality variation within natural populations are still poorly understood.

Manipulating parasites (Lefevre et al., 2009) are well known selective forces, and animals can alter their behaviours to avoid infection. It might therefore be possible that some personalities are connected to higher or lower infection risks, and that this can shape the evolution of animal personalities and their maintenance in animal populations. In my doctoral project I am therefore trying to investigate, with the help of computer modelling and a model developed by Giske et al., 2013, if and how both manipulating and non-manipulating parasites act as selecting pressures on animal personalities.

Research questions

  • How do non-manipulating parasites shape the evolution of animal personalities, and do certain personalities have an advantage in avoiding or clearing infections?
  • How do manipulating parasites affect the evolution of decision architectures and what are the consequences for individual differences in animal personalities?

How the emotional system translates sensory stimuli into behaviour in our model, and a possible implementation of a manipulating parasite (based on Figure 1 p. 691 from Giske et al., 2013).


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University of Bergen, Department of Biology

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