Data from: Data for: Variation in animal personality traits across a metal pollution gradient in a free-living songbird
Cite this dataset
Grunst, Andrea S. et al. (2019). Data from: Data for: Variation in animal personality traits across a metal pollution gradient in a free-living songbird [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.dc611p0
Anthropogenic contaminants could alter traits central to animal behavioral types, or personalities, including aggressiveness, boldness and activity level. Lead and other toxic metals are persistent inorganic pollutants that affect organisms worldwide. Metal exposure can alter behavior by affecting neurology, endocrinology, and health. However, the direction and magnitude of the behavioral effects of metal exposure remain equivocal. Moreover, the degree to which metal exposure simultaneously affects suites of correlated behavioral traits (behavioral syndromes) that are controlled by common mechanisms remains unclear, with most studies focusing on single behaviors. Using a model species for personality variation, the great tit (Parus major), we explored differences in multiple behavioral traits across a pollution gradient where levels of metals, especially lead and cadmium, are elevated close to a smelter. We employed the novel environment exploration test, a proxy for variation in personality type, and also measured territorial aggressiveness and nest defense behavior. At polluted sites birds of both sexes displayed slower exploration behavior, which could reflect impaired neurological or physiological function. Territorial aggression and nest defense behavior were individually consistent, but did not vary with proximity to the smelter, suggesting that metal exposure does not concurrently affect exploration and aggression. Rather, exploration behavior appears more sensitive to metal pollution. Effects of metal pollution on exploration behavior, a key animal personality trait, could have critical effects on fitness.