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Is individual temperament related to behaviors in a social context for a Neotropical parakeet species?

By Gabriela de Araújo Porto Ramos, Cristiano Schetini de Azevedo, Dhiordan Deon Costa Lovestain, Talys Henrique Assumpção Jardim, Aline Cristina Sant’Anna

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The relations of temperament dimensions obtained in tests traditionally used to assess interindividual differences with long-term behaviors and social rank of animals are poorly understood. Here, our aims were: (a) to investigate the relationships between temperament dimensions obtained through behavioral tests and the social rank of white-eyed parakeets (Psittacara leucophthalmus), and (b) to evaluate the relationships between temperament dimensions with social and non-social behaviors in group-housing captivity. Three temperament tests were applied for each parakeet singly: reaction to an unknown person, novel object, and reaction to potential predator tests. Bird’s behaviors during the tests were recorded, generating 13 behavioral variables to which a factor analysis was applied to extract the main dimensions of parakeets’ temperament. Social rank was obtained through the observation of aggressive social interactions for animals kept in groups of four individuals, recording the winner and loser of each event. To extract the dominance hierarchy, we used the Elo-rating and David’s index of dominance (as higher values are more dominant). Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to investigate the relationships between temperament dimensions with social rank and parakeets’ behaviors in group-housing captivity obtained with the two methods. Individual differences in parakeets in three main temperament dimensions were described (‘vigilance’, ‘boldness’, and ‘responsiveness to humans’). David’s score was significantly correlated with ‘boldness’ (r = 0.63), and a trend was found for Elo-rating (r = 0.54). For the ‘vigilance’ dimension, dominant parakeets based on David’s score (r = 0.53) and Elo-rating (r = 0.55) tended to be more vigilant. Temperament was also related to the behavioral categories in group-housing captivity. Bold parakeets spent more time in preening (r = 0.56), had a higher frequency of negative social interactions (r = 0.64), and tended to spend less time interacting with the environment (r = −0.51). Vigilant parakeets had a lower frequency of positive social interactions (r = −0.55) and spent a lower percentage of time in locomotion (r = −0.55). In conclusion, the temperament dimensions obtained for parakeets through behavioral tests were related to their social rank and the behaviors in group-housing captivity. For captive social psittacids, such as those in rescue centers, temperament could prove useful in decisions about choosing individuals to be housed together, because temperament allows inferences about the dominance of the individuals, avoiding unnecessary disputes and injuries inside the aviaries.

Date 2021
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 243
Pages 105455
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2021.105455
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Dominance
  2. Personality
  3. ranking
  4. Social behavior