Barbara Class

Evolutionary quantitative genetics of animal personality in the wild

In animal populations, as in humans, individuals are known to behave differently in response to novel or challenging situations. Behavioural differences that are consistent over time and across contexts are considered to reflect personality. For example, some individuals are consistently bolder or more aggressive than others. The strong interest in this topic arises because the mere existence of personality is considered an “evolutionary paradox”. Indeed, individuals are expected to adjust flexibly their behavior to every situation in order to maximize their chances to survive and to reproduce successfully. For instance, we would expect individuals to be shy when a predator is around, but to change to being bold when the predator is gone. From this perspective, behavioral consistency seems puzzling and the existence of animal personalities requires an evolutionary explanation. The main goal of animal personality research is to understand why animal personality exists and how it is maintained in populations. My thesis focuses on studying the evolution of animal personality using quantitative genetics. This is a largely statistical approach by which one can integrate selection and heritability to model the evolutionary process and its constraints. The work is based on an ongoing study of blue tits breeding in nest boxes in South Western Finland.


Contact information

Section of Ecology
Department of Biology
University of Turku
FI-20014 Turku

Email: barbara.class[at]

 Barbara Class


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