ABS 2022
Conservation Status, Personality, and Innovation in Captive Carnivores
Victoria L. O'Connor1, Natalia Borrego2, Lisa P. Barrett3, Jennifer Vonk1. 1Oakland University, Rochester Hills, Michigan, United States; 2University of Konstanz and Department for the Ecology of Animal Societie, Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior, Konstanz, Germany; 3San Diego Wildlife Alliance, San Diego, California, United States

Studying species and individual differences in evolved traits and their association with general cognitive capacities, such as behavioral flexibility, can add to this understanding of how environmental factors impact personality, which may influence cognitive and behavioral outcomes. We assessed the personality of various carnivores with differing IUCN conservation statuses through keeper ratings and used these latent traits to predict problem-solving performance in a multi-access puzzle box. We expected that species under lower levels of threat would outperform more critically endangered species when comparing the performance of 62 captive carnivores representing 16 species from 5 families. We expected that IUCN would predict behavioral differences in personality, which would then mediate the association of IUCN status with differences in persistence, exploration diversity, and neophobia, which, in turn, would predict problem-solving success on a test of innovation. Understanding the connection between IUCN status, personality traits and behavioral outcomes will assist in ensuring the protection of diverse species in their natural habitats and ethical treatment in captivity.