An empiricist guide to animal personality variation in ecology and evolution

Sasha R. X. Dall, Simon C. Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


The study of animal personality variation promises to provide significant new insight into the way that behavior evolves in animals, along with its ecological and evolutionary influences. We strongly advocate more empirical work in this exciting and rapidly expanding research area, but hope that new studies adopt a more hypothesis-driven and/or experimental approach than seems to be usual at the moment. Here we outline what we feel is "good practice" to the many empiricists that are keen on pursuing work in this field. We highlight the substantial body of theoretical work that exists for providing well-reasoned hypotheses, which new empirical studies should be designed to test. Furthermore, using a brief review of existing work on the behavioral ecology of animal personality variation in the zebra finch-one of the more widely used model systems in this field-we stress the importance of understanding the ecology of the chosen study animal, and the problems that are likely to arise by neglecting to identify or account for the structure of behavioral variation that is often likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Ecology and Evolution
Issue numberFEB
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2014. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Animal personality
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Experimental design
  • Theoretical ecology
  • Zebra finch

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