Tara Cox

Project: Causes and consequences of animal personalities in the Seychelles warbler.

I am a PhD student at the University of Leeds researching the behavioural and evolutionary ecology of the Seychelles warbler. More specifically, I am studying their ‘animal personalities’, a term used to describe consistent between individual variation in behavioural traits. A large body of research has demonstrated the prevalence of animal personalities across many taxa, including the Seychelles warbler. However, our understanding of the origins of animal personalities, as well as their implications on life-history strategies, remains limited.

For animal personalities to evolve, they must have a fitness benefit and a genetic basis. I will explore whether there are fitness implications related to possessing different personality traits, particularly reproductive success and survival. In addition, I will use molecular analyses, including genomic methods, to determine the genetic underpinning of between individual variation in behavioural traits. I further aim to explore whether animal personalities play a role variation of life history strategies, including an individual’s propensity to disperse from their natal site or exhibit helping behaviour in their natal territory.

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