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Adaptive individual differences. The evolution of animal personalities

27 November 2009

PhD ceremony: M. Wolf, 11.00 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Adaptive individual differences. The evolution of animal personalities

Promotor(s): prof.dr. F. Weissing

Faculty: Mathematics and Natural Sciences

Contact: tel. 00 40 9134 5799, e-mail:

No two individuals are alike. Take two individuals of the same sex, age and social background and you will typically find consistent differences in their motivation, cognition and behaviour. In humans, such differences are referred to as personalities. In recent years, consistent differences in suites of correlated behavioural traits have been described in a diverse range of more than hundred animal species. Max Wolf presents in his thesis work that aimed to investigate how natural selection can give rise to animal personalities, that is behavioural differences among individuals that are correlated across situations and contexts and stable for some period of time. Wolf developed a serie of conceptual evolutionary models. With these models he aimed to address behavioural aspects of personalities that appear to have some universality (i.e., occur in a range of animal species). There seem to be at least two candidates that suite this condition: the boldness-aggression syndrome and individual differences in responsiveness.

Wolf developed a theory that provides a link between life-history variation among individuals and personalities. In his thesis he also focused on individual differences in responsiveness to environmental stimuli. He investigated how natural selection can give rise to such differences, why such differences should be consistently expressed over time and across contexts and how the presence of responsive individuals can affect the course of evolution.

Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
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