Where behavioural responses differ consistently between individuals, this is termed ‘personality’. There is the suggestion, but with little supporting data, that personality traits reflect underlying variation in physiology. Here, we tested whether greenfinches Carduelis chloris differing in personality traits differed in various plasma indices of oxidative profile: antioxidant capacity (OXY), pro-oxidant status (reactive oxygen metabolites, ROMs), oxidative stress (OS) and an end-product of oxidative damage: malondialdehyde (MDA). We measured two personality traits: neophobia (latency to approach food near novel objects) and object exploration (latency to approach novel objects). These traits were uncorrelated. ROMs, OXY, OS and MDA were also uncorrelated with each other. Highly neophobic birds had lower OXY, higher ROMs and higher OS than less neophobic birds. Fast exploring birds had higher OXY than slow explorers, but did not differ in ROMs or OS. Variation in MDA was described by a quadratic relationship with neophobia: birds with extremely high or low neophobia had lower MDA than birds with intermediate neophobia, despite highly neophobic birds exhibiting lower OS than intermediately neophobic birds. Additively in that model, fast explorers had lower MDA than slower explorers. To conclude: first, personality types can differ in oxidative profile. Second, although physiological differences (e.g. hormonal stress responsiveness) between personality types generally range along a linear continuum, physiological costs may not. Finally, relationships with oxidative profile differed between neophobia and object exploration. Understanding how oxidative profile and thus physiological costs vary within and between personality traits may explain how differences in personality traits can predict fitness.
K.A.H. was funded by a BBSRC Industrial Case studentship with WALTHAM® and K.E.A. by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship.
- © 2011.