Skip to content

This time our speakers focused on the intriguing subject of animal personality, with our keynote speaker Dr Claudia Mettke-Hofmann from Liverpool John Moores University commencing proceedings by presenting the results of her ongoing research project on personality in Gouldian finches.

The theme of animal personality is a popular current research topic in the field of animal behavioural science. Whilst it was previously "frowned upon" for scientists to even suggest that animals might show distinct personalities, nowadays there are strict methods in place to quantify and compare various personality traits across species ranging from spiders to lynx.

This meeting, comprising around 25 delegates from a number of departments and institutions, aimed to both share recent research findings in this field and to provide a forum for the discussion of best practice in this field. Our speakers comprised both research scientists and postgraduate research students, with talks spanning a broad range of species, from prawns to donkeys!

Dr Claudia Mettke-Hofmann started off by summarising results from her lab group's innovative behavioural experiments on captive Gouldian finches (colourful Australian passerine birds) at Liverpool John Moore's University. Their conclusion is that it pays for these birds to signal their personality type (bold or shy, explorative or not) by their head colour, which could have implications for social group formation in wild populations, as well as for our understanding of the purpose of colour differences within other species. Next, Dr Chrissy Stanley from our own department gave an overview of her work on the development of personality using cockroaches as a model species. She highlighted the importance of studies where personality can be assessed at various life stages in order to improve our understanding of the evolutionary “purpose” of personality.

After a much needed hot drink, four postgraduate research students presented their recent research findings. Firstly, Stephanie Harris (University of Liverpool) showed how field research on Antarctic seabirds has elucidated a link between personality traits and foraging behaviour. Daniel Maskrey (University of Liverpool) then presented his Master's dissertation work on personality in rockpool prawns, followed by Georgie Eccles (LJMU) who reported the most recent results from her work with Claudia Mettke-Hofmann on personality differences in the approach to novel food sources in the Gouldian finch. Finally, Sergio Gonzalez Diaz, PhD student in the psychology department at the University of Chester, presented a completed study linking left or right handedness (or should that be hoofedness?!) in donkeys with personality traits.

We were extremely grateful that so many people ventured out to Chester on one of the snowiest days of the year and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to discuss a wide range of approaches to the study of personality. As always, a trip to the pub crowned off the day splendidly! Thanks to all for attending and we look forward to the next LivLabs session.

Share this content