The effect of personality on social foraging: shy barnacle geese scrounge more

R.H.J.M. Kurvers, H.H.T. Prins, S.E. van Wieren, K. Van Oers, B.A. Nolet, R.C. Ydenberg

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Abstract

Animals foraging in groups can either search for food themselves (producing) or search for the food discoveries of other individuals (scrounging). Tactic use in producer–scrounger games is partly flexible but individuals tend to show consistency in tactic use under different conditions suggesting that personality might play a role in tactic use in producer–scrounger games. Here we studied the use of producing and scrounging tactics by bold and shy barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis), where boldness is a personality trait known to be repeatable over time in this species. We defined individuals as bold, shy or intermediate based on two novel object tests. We scored the frequency of finding food patches (the outcome of investing in producing) and joining patches (the outcome of investing in scrounging) by bold and shy individuals and their feeding time. Shy individuals had a higher frequency of joining than bold individuals, demonstrating for the first time that personality is associated with tactic use in a producer–scrounger game. Bold individuals tended to spend more time feeding than shy individuals. Our results highlight the importance of including individual behavioural variation in models of producer–scrounger games.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-608
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences
Volume277
Issue number1681
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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