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Merten, Sophie von; Dingemanse, Niels J.; Luz Mathias, Maria da and Rychlik, Leszek (2020): Individual behavior, behavioral stability, and pace of life within and among five shrew species. In: Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, Vol. 74, No. 2, 15

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Phenotypic variation in behavior exists among species and populations, as well as among and within individuals. The pace-of-life syndrome hypothesis predicts covariation between life-history strategies, ranging from slow to fast, and behavior, ranging from shy, inactive, and flexible to bold, active, and less flexible. This covariation is expected to exist at multiple hierarchical levels, from the species down to the individual. We predict that fast-lived species will differ in average levels of behavior, and additionally show lower within-individual and among-individual variation than slow-lived ones. Shrews represent a highly suitable model to test these predictions, as they comprise a range of genera which differ tremendously in life-history strategy and metabolism. We performed repeated tests of boldness and aggression on 155 wild-caught individuals of five species of shrews, two species of the slow-lived genus Crocidura, two of the fast-lived genus Sorex, and one of the intermediate-paced genus Neomys. To compare not only average levels of behavior but also its variance components between those groups, we calculated coefficients of variation at within- and among-individual levels. Our results support our first prediction that, following the framework of pace-of-life-syndromes, fast-lived species should exhibit bolder behavior than slow-lived ones. However, our prediction of lower within- and among-individual variation in fast-lived species was not supported. Instead, our data suggest that other ecological factors might influence the expression of behavioral variation in shrew species, such as the variability in habitat choice and differences in anti-predator strategies.

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