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The fast and the curious II: performance, personality and metabolism in Karoo bush rats

Cite this dataset

Agnani, Paul; Thomson, Jennifer; Schradin, Carsten; Careau, Vincent (2020). The fast and the curious II: performance, personality and metabolism in Karoo bush rats [Dataset]. Dryad.


Personality traits (e.g., activity, exploration, boldness) are frequently correlated with each other and with various other traits of biological importance. According to the performance, allocation, and independent models of energy management, the relationship between personality traits and resting metabolic rate (RMR) is predicted to be either positive, negative, or nil. As for the relationship between personality traits and locomotor performance, the trait compensation and co-specialisation hypotheses respectively predict a positive and negative relationship. To test for associations between personality, metabolism, and performance, we studied a wild population of Karoo bush rat (Myotomys unisulcatus) in South Africa. During summer 2018 we captured 45 individuals (38 females and 7 males) a total of 293 times and repeatedly measured docility (time spent immobile during a bag test), exploration (distance moved in an open-field test), sprint speed, and RMR. We found a behavioural syndrome in our population, as more docile individuals covered less distance in the exploration test (r±se=-0.74±0.21). RMR was not correlated with any trait; therefore, the independent energy management model applies in this population. Fast sprinters were less explorative in the novel environment than slow sprinters (r±se=-0.41±0.21), going against the prediction of the phenotypic compensation hypothesis and suggesting co-specialisation of these traits. A similar result was previously observed in two other rodent species, suggesting that exploratory behaviour and locomotor performance may interact in an additive instead of compensatory way. Given the apparent complexity of the links between performance, behaviour, and metabolism, more studies are needed in order to understand their relationships.


Data was collected by Paul Agnani (P.A) and Jennifer Thomson (J.T) at the Succulent Karoo research station ( from February to April 2018 as a part of P.A's master project under supervision of Dr. Vincent Careau (V.C) and Dr. Carsten Schradin (C.S). Data consisted of excell files (trapping, bag test, entered at the field station), expedata files (respirometry data) and videos (sprint speed, open field). Expedata files were analysed using macro extraction as reccomended by Sable Systems International to obtain minumum oxygen consumption (RMR) at the University of Ottawa by P.A. Videos of the open field were analysed using the Ethovision software by P.A at the University of Ottawa. Videos of sprint speeds were analysed by P.A using the Tracker software to count frames at the University of Ottawa. Data was then merged by P.A and V.C to create the final file used for the main analyses. Two additional databases in the long format (containing all the values reccorded and not only the maximum sprint speed or the minimum oxygen consumption) were kept to further partition the variance. Univariate and multivariate models were done by P.A and V.C at the University of Ottawa.

Usage notes

This dataset contains three tables, the main table, and two additional databases in the "long" format used to partition variance. Metadata is available for each of the tables describing each variables.