An international team of scientists has studied individual differences in red deer behavior. They discovered that most behaviors observed form a component of personality, which they labeled ‘Confidence/Aggressiveness’.
(Photo : Getty Images)
Consistent Differences in Behavior
As is commonly known, individual people act consistently different from one another and these types of consistent differences in behavior are known as personality. Studies on species apart from humans, from insects to elephants, have discovered that personalities are naturally widespread.
The team involves scientists from the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, the University of Vienna, Austria, and the University of Turku, Finland, the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, and is headed by Bruno Esattore who is from the Department of Ethology at the Institute of Animal Science in Prague.
Personality of Red Deer
The team of scientists studied the personality of red deer with a recently developed questionnaire, as well as monitored their behaviors. The scientists recognized a single personality component close to Confidence/Aggressiveness.
Fascinatingly, some of the behaviors that make up this component were connected with dominance behavior in red deer. The study has just been released in Behavioural Processes.
Most personality studies have centered on rodents, primates, field crickets, fish, or birds.
Increase in Popularity
In spite of their biology that is well-studied and increase in popularity in the sectors of farming, the personality structure of one of Europe’s most recognized mammals, which is the red deer, has until now been unknown, the lead author of the study Bruno Esattore said.
The personality data were gathered by using a novel questionnaire for which observers that are experienced rated 15 behaviors on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 signifying the deer exhibits this behavior “Almost never” and 5 implying “Most of the time.”
Doctoral Candidate Laura Saggiomo from the Faculty of Forestry and Wood Sciences of the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague states: “We think it is very interesting that inter-individual differences which have been overlooked so far or even considered as distracting are those that finally make the difference when making an effort to recognize the personality of these animals.”
These discoveries are very exciting, but of course, they are not the last picture of how personality is manifested in red deer, says Postdoctoral Researcher Vedrana Šlipogor who is from the Department of Zoology of the University of South Bohemia in Budweiss, Czech Republic.
(Photo : Getty Images)
The team put lots of care into the questionnaire making, however, for most of the 15 behaviors the observers did not completely agree on their rating of the deer. “This was an unanticipated result and reveals that we have to be cautious with our behavioral descriptions and to have in mind the observer’s perceptions when making use of questionnaire ranking of animal behavior for the purpose of scientific studies,” Vedrana further states.
The team then connected these discoveries with observations of the dominance interactions of the male deer in their single groups.
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