Personality traits, sex and food abundance shape space use in an arboreal mammal

Lucas A Wauters, Maria Vittoria Mazzamuto, Francesca Santicchia, Adriano Martinoli, Damiano G Preatoni, Peter W W Lurz, Sandro Bertolino, Claudia Romeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Animal space use is affected by spatio-temporal variation in food availability and/or population density and varies among individuals. This inter-individual variation in spacing behaviour can be further influenced by sex, body condition, social dominance, and by the animal's personality. We used capture-mark-recapture and radio-tracking to examine the relationship between space use and personality in Eurasian red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) in three conifer forests in the Italian Alps. We further explored to what extent this was influenced by changes in food abundance and/or population density. Measures of an individual's trappability and trap diversity had high repeatability and were used in a Principal Component Analysis to obtain a single personality score representing a boldness-exploration tendency. Males increased home-range size with low food abundance and low female density, independent of their personality. However, bolder males used larger core-areas that overlapped less with other males than shy ones, suggesting different resource (food, partners) utilization strategies among personality types. For females, space use-personality relationships varied with food abundance, and bolder females used larger home ranges than shy ones at low female density, but the trend was opposite at high female density. Females' intrasexual core-area overlap was negatively related to body mass, with no effect of personality. We conclude that relationships between personality traits and space use in free-ranging squirrels varied with sex, and were further influenced by spatio-temporal fluctuations in food availability. Moreover, different personality types (bold-explorative vs. shy) seemed to adopt different space-use strategies to increase access to food and/or partners.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date1 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Core-area
  • Home-range size
  • Sciurus vulgaris
  • · Seed-crop size
  • Trappability


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