Personality traits of pair members predict pair compatibility and reproductive success in a socially monogamous parrot breeding in captivity

Authors

  • Rebecca A. Fox,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California
    • Correspondence to: Rebecca A. Fox, Department of Biology, Transylvania University, 300 North Broadway Rd., Lexington, KY 40508. E-mail: rfox@transy.edu

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  • James R. Millam

    1. Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, California
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Abstract

While pair behavioral compatibility seems to be a determinant of reproductive success in at least some species of monogamous birds, the specific factors underlying among-pair variation in behavioral compatibility remain poorly understood. However, recent research on the relationship between personality traits and reproductive success in several species of socially monogamous birds suggests that the fit between mates' personality traits might play a role in determining behavioral compatibility. To test this hypothesis, we used ten pairs formed by free choice from a captive population of cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus) to investigate whether personality ratings could be used to predict pair compatibility and reproductive success in pairs breeding for the first time. We found that pairs that ultimately hatched eggs paired disassortatively for agreeableness (an aggregate measure of social style which measures birds' tendency to be aggressive vs. gentle, submissive, and tolerant of others' behavior), and, as predicted, showed lower intrapair aggression and better coordination during incubation. Conversely, unsuccessful pairs paired assortatively for agreeableness, showed higher levels of intrapair aggression, and showed poorer coordination during incubation. Our results suggest that personality measurements may provide a useful adjunct to other information currently used in selecting mates for birds breeding in captivity. Zoo Biol. 33:166–172, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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