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Pace-of-life syndrome: linking personality, metabolism and colour ornamentation in male guppies

Cite this dataset

Godin, Jean-Guy et al. (2022). Pace-of-life syndrome: linking personality, metabolism and colour ornamentation in male guppies [Dataset]. Dryad.


Within populations, there commonly exists consistent among-individual differences in behaviour. As a potential mechanism maintaining this variation, the pace-of-life-syndrome (POLS) hypothesis posits that consistent differences in the behaviour of individuals (i.e. ‘personality’) are intercorrelated and have coevolved with consistent individual differences in metabolism and life-history traits. Here, using adult male guppies, Poecilia reticulata, we tested under laboratory conditions (1) whether behavioural and metabolic traits vary consistently among individuals over time (≤ 7 days) and (2) the POLS prediction that repeatable behavioural traits should be intercorrelated with each other and with repeatable metabolic rate at the among-individual level. Furthermore, based on indicator models of sexual selection, we expected that sexually selected male colour ornamentation would predict individual personality and metabolic rate. We repeatedly assayed three behavioural traits (sociability, boldness, exploration) and three metabolic traits (resting metabolic rate, maximal metabolic rate, aerobic scope) in a set of males that varied in body size and colour ornamentation. All behavioural trait measures were repeatable, consistent with individual personality. Of the three metabolic traits, only resting metabolic rate (RMR) was repeatable. Behavioural trait measures were significantly intercorrelated and thus integrated in a behavioural syndrome. More ‘proactive’ males were bolder, more exploratory and more sociable than ‘reactive’ ones. However, contrary to the POLS hypothesis, RMRwas not significantly correlated with any of the behavioural trait measures, suggesting that consistent individual differences in RMR do not drive or support differences in personality, or vice versa. Male colour ornamentation did not covary with behaviour or RMR and thus does not appear to be a reliable predictor of either behavioural or metabolic phenotypes. We therefore did not find any compelling support for the POLS hypothesis, suggesting that individual differences in metabolism do not underlie the evolution and maintenance of among-individual  behavioural variation in our study population.


This dataset was collected by observing/video filming individual test guppies in different types of aquaria (depending on the experimental test) under standardized laboratory conditions. The behaviour (sociability, boldness, exploration) of individual fish was quantified from the video films (as described in details in our paper). The resting and active metabolic rate (oxygen uptake rate) of the same individual test were also recorded using respirometry.  All behaviour and metabolism data were analyzed statistically using the open-source R statistical framework, as described in detail in our paper.

Usage notes

Only Microsoft Excel is required to open the Dataset.xls file.

The Dataset file is an Excel data file(.xls) in support of all the figures and tables in the paper by Godin et al. (2022). Animal Behaviour.  In this Excel data file, the original raw data are organized in discrete columns (representing variables) in Sheet 1, and the description of each column header title can be found in Sheet 2 (see also our ReadMe.txt file).


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Award: #8074-2010

University of Sydney