Fish have complex personalities that allow them to deal with different levels of stress, according to a study published in the journal Functional Ecology.
Researchers from the University of Exeter were examining the individual traits of fish called Trinidadian guppies when they found that they had more complex personalities than originally thought, the Daily Mail reported.
The research looked at how the guppies behaved in various situations and discovered complex difference between individuals, according to the Daily Mail. The scientists looked for how they related to different situations – from being placed in an unfamiliar tank to showing them models of a predatory bird or fish.
"The idea of a simple spectrum is often put forward to explain the behavior of individuals in species such as the Trinidadian guppy," Tom Houslay, of the Center for Ecology and Conservation, at the University of Exeter said in the school's statement.
"But our research shows that the reality is much more complex. For example, when placed into an unfamiliar environment, we found guppies have various strategies for coping with this stressful situation – many attempt to hide, others try to escape, some explore cautiously, and so on," he continued.
Housley said in the statement that the differences between the reactions of the guppies were consistent over time and varying situations.
"So, while the behavior of all the guppies changed depending on the situation – for example, all becoming more cautious in more stressful situations – the relative differences between individuals remained intact," he said.
The team's work revealed, according to the journal, various "coping styles" among the guppies along with showing "that the full range of their underlying variation might not be readily captured analytically by a simple, single-axis paradigm, even when considering behavior alone."
Alastair Wilson, from the Center for Ecology and Conservation, stated that next phase of the university's research will deal with the genetics underlying personalities and associated traits.
"We want to know how personality relates to other facets of life, and to what extent this is driven by genetic – rather than environmental – influences," Wilson said in the University of Exeter statement. "The goal is really gaining insight into evolutionary processes, how different behavioral strategies might persist as species evolve."
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