Novel environment exploration and home range size in starlings Sturnus vulgaris



Minderman J, Reid JM, Hughes M, Denny MJH, Hogg S, Evans PGH & Whittingham MJ (2010) Novel environment exploration and home range size in starlings Sturnus vulgaris. Behavioral Ecology, 21 (6), pp. 1321-1329.

Individual variation in exploration behavior can affect fitness, can be individually consistent and heritable, and is increasingly measured as an animal personality trait in novel environment tests. Exploration speed in novel environment tests is generally found to be positively correlated with movement distances in wild animals, but such studies tend to be limited to single measures of exploration and rarely investigate the role of other correlates of movement behavior in the wild. We show that scores of the speed of exploration of wild juvenile starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) in novel environment tests are not correlated with either the maximum extent of, or the size of the most frequently used part of, their home range. By contrast, scores that reflect what parts of the novel environment were explored are correlated with the size of the most frequently used area and tend to be correlated with the maximum home range size. The latter relationship was stronger for individuals that were on average found in larger flocks and for individuals with less suitable foraging habitat in their range. We conclude that aspects of exploration other than its speed may be better predictors of exploration in the wild for some species. Moreover, our findings further illustrate that the association between animal personality traits such as exploration behavior and the behavioral ecology of wild animals may depend on the environmental or social context. These findings are discussed in the context of individual variation in the response to environmental variability.

animal personality; behavioral syndromes; coping styles; environmental sensitivity; individual variation; kernel density; minimum convex polygon; movement

Behavioral Ecology: Volume 21, Issue 6

Publication date31/12/2010
PublisherOxford University Press

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Dr Jeroen Minderman
Dr Jeroen Minderman

Research Fellow, Biological and Environmental Sciences