Improved performance, within-individual consistency and between-individual differences in the righting behaviour of the Caribbean sea star, Oreaster reticulatus

in Behaviour
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Individuals cope differently to challenging and stressful situations. Being inverted is challenging and stressful for animals, as the position leaves them vulnerable to predators and desiccation. Although sea star self-righting was first studied in the 19th century, efforts to quantify patterns of within-individual consistency and among-individual differences are limited. Here we examined the performance and repeatability of righting behaviour in the Caribbean sea star (Oreaster reticulatus). Oreaster reticulatus were wild caught and transported to a nearby facility where they were inverted up to five times. Most animals improved their righting times and exhibited within-individual consistency and among individual differences in righting method. We posit that it may be favourable to employ a consistent righting method to effectively achieve an upright position. Predation pressure and stress physiology are hypothesized to shape individual differences in righting behaviour. Moreover, these results provide preliminary evidence of personality in sea stars.



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  • Righting methods 1 (A) and 2 (B) used by the Caribbean sea star O. reticulatus. In method 1, the animal reaches aborally with 4 arms whereas in method 2 all five arms reach orally before the animal tips over. This figure is published in colour in the online edition of this journal, which can be accessed via

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  • Righting duration (minutes) across consecutive trials for individual O. reticulatus. Trends are illustrated by locally weighted regression curves.

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  • Fitted values (± 95% CI) from a linear mixed model for the righting duration of a typical O. reticulatus across five trials. Estimates were generated by holding body size and water temperature at their means (x¯bodysize=14.8cm; x¯Temp=25.4°C).

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