• Personality in the cockroach Diploptera punctata: Evidence for stability across developmental stages despite age effects on boldness

      Stanley, Christina R.; Mettke-Hofmann, Claudia; Preziosi, Richard F.; University of Chester; University of Manchester; Liverpool John Moores University; Manchester Metropolitan University (PLOS, 2017-05-10)
      Despite a recent surge in the popularity of animal personality studies and their wide-ranging associations with various aspects of behavioural ecology, our understanding of the development of personality over ontogeny remains poorly understood. Stability over time is a central tenet of personality; ecological pressures experienced by an individual at different life stages may, however, vary considerably, which may have a significant effect on behavioural traits. Invertebrates often go through numerous discrete developmental stages and therefore provide a useful model for such research. Here we test for both differential consistency and age effects upon behavioural traits in the gregarious cockroach Diploptera punctata by testing the same behavioural traits in both juveniles and adults. In our sample, we find consistency in boldness, exploration and sociality within adults whilst only boldness was consistent in juveniles. Both boldness and exploration measures, representative of risk-taking behaviour, show significant consistency across discrete juvenile and adult stages. Age effects are, however, apparent in our data; juveniles are significantly bolder than adults, most likely due to differences in the ecological requirements of these life stages. Size also affects risk-taking behaviour since smaller adults are both bolder and more highly explorative. Whilst a behavioural syndrome linking boldness and exploration is evident in nymphs, this disappears by the adult stage, where links between other behavioural traits become apparent. Our results therefore indicate that differential consistency in personality can be maintained across life stages despite age effects on its magnitude, with links between some personality traits changing over ontogeny, demonstrating plasticity in behavioural syndromes.
    • Scenario-Led Habitat Modelling of Land Use Change Impacts on Key Species

      Geary, Matthew; Fielding, Alan H.; McGowan, Philip J. K.; Marsden, Stuart J.; University of Chester, Manchester Metropolitan University; Newcastle University (PLOS, 2015-11-16)
      Accurate predictions of the impacts of future land use change on species of conservation concern can help to inform policy-makers and improve conservation measures. If predictions are spatially explicit, predicted consequences of likely land use changes could be accessible to land managers at a scale relevant to their working landscape. We introduce a method, based on open source software, which integrates habitat suitability modelling with scenario-building, and illustrate its use by investigating the effects of alternative land use change scenarios on landscape suitability for black grouse Tetrao tetrix. Expert opinion was used to construct five near-future (twenty years) scenarios for the 800 km2 study site in upland Scotland. For each scenario, the cover of different land use types was altered by 5–30% from 20 random starting locations and changes in habitat suitability assessed by projecting a MaxEnt suitability model onto each simulated landscape. A scenario converting grazed land to moorland and open forestry was the most beneficial for black grouse, and ‘increased grazing’ (the opposite conversion) the most detrimental. Positioning of new landscape blocks was shown to be important in some situations. Increasing the area of open-canopy forestry caused a proportional decrease in suitability, but suitability gains for the ‘reduced grazing’ scenario were nonlinear. ‘Scenario-led’ landscape simulation models can be applied in assessments of the impacts of land use change both on individual species and also on diversity and community measures, or ecosystem services. A next step would be to include landscape configuration more explicitly in the simulation models, both to make them more realistic, and to examine the effects of habitat placement more thoroughly. In this example, the recommended policy would be incentives on grazing reduction to benefit black grouse.