Despite the growing interest in consistent individual differences in behaviour (animal personality), the influence of social context on different behavioural types remains poorly understood. The suite of correlated behaviours within and across contexts is called behavioural syndromes. Most personality studies have investigated consistent individual behavioural types and their consequences in a asocial context, however few studies have considered the influence of social context on individual behaviour. In addition, the evolutionary and ecological consequences of personality differences in social context remain unknown. In the present study, we confirm individual personality in Great tits (Parus major) using room exploration and neophobia tests. As a result of these two tests, repeatability and correlational structure of two personality traits were investigated. Additionally we assessed the extent to which personality influences dominance in a social feeding context.

Great tits remained consistent in their personality traits (exploration and neophobia). Individuals who explored a novel environment faster also approached a novel object faster, while those who spent more time exploring a novel environment were also slower to approach a novel object. In a social feeding context personality was linked to dominance: with proactive individuals being more likely to be dominant. Our result provides evidence of the importance of social context in a wild population of birds and may have fitness consequence, both for focal individuals and their conspecifics.

In: Behaviour