WEES Seminar 'Two frontiers in the study of the adaptive significance of animal personality'

Organised by Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS)

Thu 23 January 2014

For more information:


Hundreds of studies have quantified animal personalities or behavioral syndromes in a broad range of taxa. Recent reviews have noted substantial variation in the repeatability or consistency of personalities and in the strength of the behavioral correlations that are at the heart of the concept of a behavioral syndrome. Studies have also found variation in the effects of ecological or social conditions, and of early or later experiences on behavioral types (BTs) or behavioral syndromes, and variation in the frequency distribution of behavioral types (e.g., normal vs bimodal distributions). The first part of my talk will present a general conceptual framework based on behavior-state feedbacks that generates predictions to explain this variation, along with some thoughts for empiricists on how to test these predictions. A second frontier involves the interaction between animal personalities and social behavioral ecology. How does the mix of BTs in a social group interact with each individual's BT to determine behavioral and fitness outcomes (e.g., mating success)? Part 2 of my talk will present results of experiments on these issues with water striders, a system where animals spend roughly half of their adult lives in the act of mating, repeatedly with multiple partners, involving substantial sexual conflict.  This section will touch on the topics of social plasticity, keystone individuals, social skill, and rapid, reversible plasticity of entire mating systems.

Dr. Andrew Sih is head of the Sih-lab (University of California at Davis) studying behavioral ecology, community ecology and conservation biology via an evolutionary approach. By focussing on building bridges between inter-related fields he aims to generate exciting and important insights which could lead to the integration of previous separated study areas. See for his personal webpage:

Where: Forum Building lecture room C214 - Droevendaalsesteeg 2, Wageningen
When: Thursday January 23rd  - 16:00 - 17:00hrs
For whom: professors, lecturers, post-docs, PhD, MSc & BSc students and anyone else interested in evolution and ecology

Master class
Before the seminar a master class for interested PhD and MSc students is organized from 13:30 to 15:00 in room C107, Forum building. The master class gives the attendants the possibility to meet the speaker of the seminar and have a discussion based on a recent publication. The master classes are a good possibility to get acquainted with hot topics in science and to learn to discuss these topics with leading scientists in the field.

Registration for the master class is required and there is a maximum of 15 attendants. MSc students can get credits for the master class. If you are interested in joining the discussion prior to the seminar, please contact<>.

WEES background
WEES is an initiative of PhD students and postdocs at Wageningen University to organize a continuing series of stimulating seminars on contemporary topics in evolution and ecology. We aim to bring together different groups at Wageningen University using a variety of systems, but with a common interest in evolutionary and ecological questions. For this series we invite researchers from all over the world that have leading roles in their field. After the talk there will be drinks for an informal discussion. WEES is funded by graduate schools PE&RC, WIMEK, EPS, VLAG and WIAS.