Meeting Abstract

88.3  Friday, Jan. 6  Badges of personality? Neophobia, corticosterone, and bib size in house sparrows Passer domesticus FOX, RA*; WILLIAMS, RN; Transylvania University; Transylvania University

In nonhuman animals, “personality” refers to individual variation in behavior that is consistent across time and/or context. Neophobia (i.e., reactivity to novel objects in a familiar environment) is a commonly-used index of personality in nonhuman animals, and has been linked to individual variation in basal levels of corticosterone (CORT) and/or CORT responsiveness to acute stress, as well as to ecologically-relevant outcomes such as the acquisition of dominance status in social groups. In the current study, we explore the relationship among neophobia, basal and stress-induced CORT levels, and bib size in house sparrows (Passer domesticus). The chest bib of the male house sparrow is a melanin-based signal that is thought to be related to social status and fighting ability. Because melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH, which controls CORT production by the adrenal glands) are both derived from the same precursor molecule, we predict that there may be a correlation between levels of circulating CORT and bib size in house sparrows, and that neophobia should be a predictor of these two variables.