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Express yourself: bold individuals induce enhanced morphological defences.

  • Kaj Hulthén
  • Ben Chapman
  • Anders Nilsson
  • Johan Hollander
  • Christer Brönmark
Publishing year: 2014
Language: English
Publication/Series: Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
Volume: 281
Issue: 1776
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Royal Society

Abstract english

Organisms display an impressive array of defence strategies in nature. Inducible defences (changes in morphology and/or behaviour within a prey's lifetime) allow prey to decrease vulnerability to predators and avoid unnecessary costs of expression. Many studies report considerable interindividual variation in the degree to which inducible defences are expressed, yet what underlies this variation is poorly understood. Here, we show that individuals differing in a key personality trait also differ in the magnitude of morphological defence expression. Crucian carp showing risky behaviours (bold individuals) expressed a significantly greater morphological defence response when exposed to a natural enemy when compared with shy individuals. Furthermore, we show that fish of different personality types differ in their behavioural plasticity, with shy fish exhibiting greater absolute plasticity than bold fish. Our data suggest that individuals with bold personalities may be able to compensate for their risk-prone behavioural type by expressing enhanced morphological defences.


  • Ecology
  • boldness
  • individual differences
  • predator
  • phenotypic plasticity
  • inducible defence
  • personality trait


  • ISSN: 1471-2954
Johan Hollander
E-mail: johan [dot] hollander [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Division aquatic ecology

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Aquatic Ecology