L. Baker, M. Lawrence, Mary Toews
Personality affects how animals respond to challenging circumstances and may affect the success of conservation translocations. To assess personality in translocated Stephens’ kangaroo rats we exposed animals to a mirror to simulate a conspecific and to predator scent. Observers made subjective ratings of animals using 16 traits and recorded behaviour. We assayed faecal cortisol at time of capture and during captivity. We identified three personality dimensions: Assertiveness, Excitability, and Persistence. Individuals received similar scores for these dimensions in the two tests, suggesting consistent differences across context. High-Assertiveness animals showed risky behaviour, and had lower baseline cortisol. Assertiveness corresponds to ‘proactive-reactive coping’ described for other rodents. High-Excitability animals were scored as high for Anxious and Fearful; this dimension may correspond to ‘emotional-reactivity’ described in rats. Considering personality in translocations may allow selection of individuals who better cope with stressors, and may identify individuals needing special care to survive translocation.