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Data from: Exploration profiles drive activity patterns and temporal niche specialization in a wild rodent

Citation

Gharnit, Elouana; Bergeron, Patrick; Garant, Dany; Réale, Denis (2020), Data from: Exploration profiles drive activity patterns and temporal niche specialization in a wild rodent, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d7wm37pxt

Abstract

Individual niche specialization can have important consequences for competition, fitness, and ultimately population dynamics and ecological speciation. The temporal window and the level of daily activity are niche components that may vary with sex, breeding season, food supply, population density, and predator’s circadian rhythm. More recently, ecologists emphasized that traits such as dispersal and space use could depend on personality differences. Boldness and exploration have been shown to correlate with variation in foraging patterns, habitat use, and home range. Here we assessed the link between exploration, measured from repeated novel environment tests, activity patterns, and temporal niche specialization in wild eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). Intrinsic differences in exploration should drive daily activity patterns through differences in energy requirements, space use, or the speed to access resources. We used collar-mounted accelerometers to assess whether individual exploration profiles predicted: (1) daily overall dynamic body acceleration, reflecting overall activity levels; (2) mean activity duration and the rate of activity sequences, reflecting the structure of daily activity; and (3) patterns of dawn and dusk activity, reflecting temporal niche differentiation. Exploration and overall activity levels were weakly related. However, both dawn activity and rate of activity sequences increased with the speed of exploration. Overall, activity patterns varied according to temporal variability in food conditions. This study emphasizes the role of intrinsic behavioral differences in activity patterns in a wild animal population. Future studies will help us understand how yearly seasonality in reproduction, food abundance, and population density modulate personality-dependent foraging patterns and temporal niche specialization.

Methods

All details have been provided in the Material and methods section of the manuscript.