What is it about?

Personality can affect animals' capacity to reproduce and survive in the wild. Often, a balancing selection exists that allows a range of personalities to co-exist (bold and shy, slow and fast...). In our study population, we have found that male blue tits are significantly slower explorers than females. What evolutionary mechanism is allowing slower-exploring males to prevail over fast ones? To answer this, we looked at the reproductive and survival parameters of our population. We found that slow-exploring males belong to nests with shorter incubation periods, and timid males survived better than bolder ones. These results may agree with previous studies that explain how slow males make better parents and mates, and survive better by being less conspicuous. Furthermore, we found that couples of opposing personalities (fast-slow or slow-fast) were more successful breeders than pairs of birds with similar personalities. This contrasts with similar studies performed on tits that found couples of similar personalities to perform better during the breeding season. We suggest future research should assess the implications of unequal personality selection across sexes.

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Why is it important?

Up to date, no studies in Parids had detected behavioural differences between the sexes because selective pressures often balance the different phenotypes within the populations (fast or slow, bold or shy, etc. are favoured in different scenarios). The pace-of-life- theory suggests males are more likely to develop faster traits than females due to differences between the reproductive roles (aggressiveness, territoriality, male-male competition...). However, we found that males in our population are slower explorers than females.

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This page is a summary of: Intersexual differences in the exploratory behaviour of blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), Behaviour, June 2022, Brill,
DOI: 10.1163/1568539x-bja10171.
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