vinces99 writes "Like humans, some song sparrows are more effusive than others, at least when it comes to defending their territories. New findings from the University of Washington show that consistent individual differences exist not only for how aggressive individual song sparrows are but also for how much they use their signals to communicate their aggressive intentions. The findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that while many birds signal their intentions clearly, other “strong silent types” go immediately to aggressive behavior and ultimately attack without first signaling their intentions. “The results are the first to explicitly link individual differences in a personality variable to communication in a wild animal,” said lead author Çalar Akçay, who did the study when he was a UW graduate student. He is now a postdoctoral associate at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As any pet owner can attest, animals have consistent individual differences, or personalities. Some may be more aggressive or bold, shy or laid back. Such personality differences have been noted in a number of species ranging from insects to primates and, of course, humans. But the role of personality in animal communication has not been studied. “There is a growing realization in the field that factoring in personality variables will help solve many thorny problems in animal behavior, such as do animals signal honestly,” said Michael Beecher, co-author and a UW professor of psychology and biology. In other words, if a bird knew the personality of its opponent, it would have a better understanding of when to expect an attack. “The strong silent types are just as assertive as the signaling types, they just don’t advertise their aggressive intentions,” Beecher said. “You want to distinguish strong silent types from true wimps that don’t signal and won’t attack.”"
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