Predatory behaviour as a personality trait in a wild fish population

Andrew Szopa-Comley*, Callum Duffield, Indar Ramnarine, Christos C Ioannou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)


Consistent inter-individual differences in behaviour (i.e. animal personality variation) can influence a range of ecological and evolutionary processes, including predation. Variation between individual predators in commonly measured personality traits, such as boldness and activity, has previously been linked to encounter rates with their prey. Given the strong selection on predators to respond to prey, individual predators may also vary consistently in their response to prey in a manner that is specific to the context of predation. By studying wild piscivorous fish (pike cichlids, Crenicichla frenata) in their natural environment using experimental presentations of prey and control stimuli, we show that individual predators differ consistently in the amount of time spent near prey. Crucially, these differences were not explained by the behaviour of the same individuals in control presentations (the same apparatus lacking prey), suggesting that variation in the response to prey reflects a ‘predator personality trait’ which is independent from other individual traits (body size, boldness and/or neophobia) and environmental factors. Pike cichlids which spent more time near prey also attacked prey at a higher rate. These findings imply that the likely risk posed by individual predators cannot always be adequately predicted from typically studied axes of personality variation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Aug 2020


  • animal personality
  • animal temperament
  • attack rate
  • behavioural type
  • guppy
  • inter-individual variation
  • pike cichlid
  • predator-prey interactions
  • predator proximity
  • predation risk

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