Harnessing the ecological roles of animal personalities

by Margaret Nagle, University of Maine
November 5, 2021

Personality differences that account for varying behaviors within species should be taken into account in ecosystem management, according to researchers in the University of Maine Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology.

The researchers noted that there is great potential in exploring ways that the personality composition of a population may affect the ecosystem services that the population provides — from how bees pollinate and small mammals disperse seeds to how burrowing species, including earthworms and prairie dogs, affect soil quality. Personalities have a role in pest management, and even how seemingly “friendly,” “curious” or “playful” individual cetaceans impact the popularity of such ecotourism initiatives as whale watching.

In their paper, “Modulation of ecosystem services by animal personalities,” published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the researchers provide a four-step process for ecologists to use to investigate the role of personalities in modulating ecosystem services. Co-authors are Malcolm Hunter, emeritus professor of wildlife ecology, graduate students Sara Boone and Allison Brehm, and associate professor in wildlife habitat conservation Alessio Mortelliti.

Keep reading: https://umaine.edu/news/blog/2021/11/05/harnessing-the-ecological-roles-of-animal-personalities/

Read the Frontiers paper: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fee.2418