Thermal preference predicts animal personality in Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus



Cerqueira M, Rey S, Featherstone Z, Crumlish M & MacKenzie S (2016) Thermal preference predicts animal personality in Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus. Journal of Animal Ecology, 85 (5), pp. 1389-1400.

1.Environmental temperature gradients provide habitat structure in which fish orientate and individual thermal choice may reflect an essential integrated response to the environment. The use of subtle thermal gradients likely impacts upon specific physiological and behavioural processes reflected as a suite of traits described by animal personality. In this study we examine the relationship between thermal choice, animal personality and the impact of infection upon this interaction.  2.We predicted that thermal choice in Nile tilapiaOreochromis niloticusreflects distinct personality traits and that under a challenge individuals exhibit differential thermal distribution.  3.Nile Tilapia were screened following two different protocols: 1) a suite of individual behavioural tests to screen for personality and 2) thermal choice in a custom-built tank with a thermal gradient (TCHtank) ranging from 21 to 33 °C. A first set of fish were screened for behaviour and then thermal preference and a second set were tested in the opposite fashion; thermal then behaviour. The final thermal distribution of the fish after 48 h was assessed reflecting final thermal preferendum. Additionally, fish were then challenged using a bacterialStreptococcus iniaemodel infection to assess the behavioural fever response of proactive and reactive fish.  4.Results showed that individuals with preference for higher temperatures were also classified as proactive with behavioural tests and reactive contemporaries chose significantly lower water temperatures. All groups exhibited behavioural fever recovering personality-specific thermal preferences after 5 days.  5.Our results show that thermal preference can be used as a proxy to assess personality traits in Nile tilapia and it is a central factor to understand the adaptive meaning of animal personality within a population. Importantly, response to infection by expressing behavioural fever overrides personality related thermal choice.

thermal preference; animal personality; environmental choice; behavioural fever; Nile Tilapia; physiological regulation

Journal of Animal Ecology: Volume 85, Issue 5

FundersEuropean Commission
Publication date30/09/2016
Publication date online03/08/2016
Date accepted by journal13/05/2016

People (3)


Professor Margaret Crumlish

Professor Margaret Crumlish

Professor, Institute of Aquaculture

Professor Simon MacKenzie

Professor Simon MacKenzie

Professor & Head of Inst of Aquaculture, Institute of Aquaculture

Dr Sonia Rey Planellas

Dr Sonia Rey Planellas

Associate Professor, Institute of Aquaculture