Investigating patterns of among and within-individual trait variation in populations is essential to understanding how selection shapes phenotypes. Behavior is often the most flexible aspect of the phenotype, and to understand how it is affected by selection, we need to examine how consistent individuals are. However, it is not well understood whether among-individual differences tend to remain consistent over lifetimes, or whether the behavior of individuals relative to one another varies over time. We examined the dynamics of 4 behavioral traits (tendency to leave a refuge, shyness, activity, and exploration) in a wild population of field crickets (Gryllus campestris). We tagged individuals and then temporarily removed them from their natural environment and tested them under laboratory conditions. All 4 traits showed among-individual variance in mean levels of expression across the adult lifespan, but no significant differences in how rapidly expression changed with age. For all traits, among-individual variance increased as individuals got older. Our findings reveal seldom examined changes in variance components over the adult lifetime of wild individuals. Such changes will have important implications for the relationship between behavioral traits, life-histories, and fitness and the consequences of selection on wild individuals.
Fisher, D. N., David, M., Tregenza, T., & Rodriguez-Munoz, R. (2015). Dynamics of among-individual behavioral variation over adult lifespan in a wild insect. Behavioral Ecology, 26(4), 975-985. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arv048