ABS 2022
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Intraspecific variation in visual perception correlates with explorative but not social behaviours
Nadia Hamilton, Sam Matchette , Katherine Dunkley , James Herbert-Read. University of Cambridge , Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

While there are distinct differences in the perceptual abilities of animals between species, less attention has been paid to the role of intraspecific variation in the perceptual abilities of individuals within populations. Indeed, whether differences in the perceptual abilities of individuals shape individuals’ exploratory or social tendencies remains untested. I quantified individual differences in the visual perceptual abilities of sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and asked whether individuals with relatively better visual perceptual abilities were more explorative and less likely to rely on social information. While individuals with better contrast sensitivity and visual acuity were quicker to explore a novel environment, these individuals were not more likely to associate with other conspecifics. My results demonstrate a link between individual differences in visual perceptual and exploratory behaviour, but not with social tendencies. I discuss my findings in relation to the trade-offs associated with increased investment in perception, and the constraints that perception may place on how individuals explore environments.