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Keywords:

  • age at first reproduction;
  • basal metabolic rate;
  • fast–slow continuum;
  • energetics;
  • lifestyles;
  • open field;
  • personality;
  • phylogeny

Summary

  • 1
    Personality is highly relevant to ecology and the evolution of fast–slow metabolic and life-history strategies. One of the most important personality traits is exploratory behaviour, usually measured on an animal introduced to a novel environment (e.g. open-field test).
  • 2
    Here, we use a unique comparative dataset on open-field exploratory behaviour of muroid rodents to test a key assumption of a recent evolutionary model, i.e. that exploration thoroughness is positively correlated to age at first reproduction (AFR). We then examine how AFR and exploratory behaviour are related to basal metabolic rate (BMR).
  • 3
    Inter-specific variation in exploratory behaviour was positively correlated with AFR. Both AFR and exploration behaviour were negatively correlated with BMR. These results remained significant when taking phylogeny into account.
  • 4
    We suggest that species occupying unproductive and unpredictable environments simultaneously benefit from high exploration, low BMR and delayed AFR because exploration increases the likelihood of finding scarce resources, whereas low BMR and delayed reproduction enhance survival during frequent resources shortages.
  • 5
    This study provides the first empirical evidence for a link between personality, life-history, phylogeny and energy metabolism at the inter-specific level. The superficial-thorough exploration continuum can be mapped along the fast–slow metabolic and life-history continua.