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Examining individual behavioural variation in wild adult bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) suggests divergent personalities

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Thomas M. Vignaud PSL Université Paris, USR 3278 EPHE-UPVD-CNRS, CRIOBE, BP 1013: 98729 Papetoai, Moorea, French Polynesia
Laboratoire d’Excellence “CORAIL”, 98729 Moorea, French Polynesia
PI2M, Pôle d’Excellence Rurale, RN2: 97670 Coconi, Mayotte

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0817-8084
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Carl G. Meyer Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI, USA

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Clémentine Séguigne PSL Université Paris, USR 3278 EPHE-UPVD-CNRS, CRIOBE, BP 1013: 98729 Papetoai, Moorea, French Polynesia
Laboratoire d’Excellence “CORAIL”, 98729 Moorea, French Polynesia

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7520-9667
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Jan Bierwirth PSL Université Paris, USR 3278 EPHE-UPVD-CNRS, CRIOBE, BP 1013: 98729 Papetoai, Moorea, French Polynesia
Laboratoire d’Excellence “CORAIL”, 98729 Moorea, French Polynesia

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7465-9148
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Eric E.G. Clua PSL Université Paris, USR 3278 EPHE-UPVD-CNRS, CRIOBE, BP 1013: 98729 Papetoai, Moorea, French Polynesia
Laboratoire d’Excellence “CORAIL”, 98729 Moorea, French Polynesia
PI2M, Pôle d’Excellence Rurale, RN2: 97670 Coconi, Mayotte

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7629-2685
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Abstract

Although many animal species demonstrate individual personalities, studying these traits in wild sharks has proven challenging. Past research focused mainly on captive or juvenile sharks. Our ethological study of 31 wild adult bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) utilized an artificial provisioning site, amassing 2813 observations over 651 dives from October 2015 to January 2018 (27 months). Behavioural traits, including boldness-shyness and aggressiveness-placidity, were assessed using an ad hoc ethogram and an influencing factors table. This innovative approach not only allowed us to characterize individual shark behaviours but also to quantify their changes over time. Our findings suggest that adult bull sharks likely possess distinct personalities, spanning from extreme shyness to pronounced boldness, with varying levels of plasticity among individuals. Further exploration of shark personalities holds promise for advancing our comprehension of human–shark interactions and refining the management of potential aggressive behaviours exhibited by large shark species toward humans.

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