Gaps to Address in Ecological Studies of Temperament and Physiology

Elyse K. McMahon, Sonia A. Cavigelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Ecology is a diverse field with many researchers interested in drivers and consequences of variability within populations. Two aspects of variability that have been addressed are behavioral and physiological. While these have been shown to separately influence ecological outcomes such as survival, reproductive success, and fitness, combined they could better predict within-population variability in survival and fitness. Recently there has been a focus on potential fitness outcomes of consistent behavioral traits that are referred to as personality or temperament (e.g., boldness, sociability, and exploration). Given this recent focus, it is an optimal time to identify areas to supplement in this field, particularly in determining the relationship between temperament and physiological traits. To maximize progress, in this perspective paper, we propose that the following two areas be addressed: (1) increased diversity of species and (2) increased number of physiological processes studied, with an eye toward using more representative and relatively consistent measures across studies. We first highlight information that has been gleaned from species that are frequently studied to determine how animal personality relates to physiology and/or survival/fitness. We then shine a spotlight on important taxa that have been understudied and that can contribute meaningful, complementary information to this area of research. And last, we propose a brief array of physiological processes to relate to temperament, and that can significantly impact fitness, and that may be accessible in field studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1917-1932
Number of pages16
JournalIntegrative and comparative biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Plant Science


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