Meira, J. E. S., Nogueira-Filho, S. L. G., Mendl, M. et al. 2023. Responses to environmental enrichment are associated with personality characteristics in chestnut-bellied seed finches (Sporophila angolensis). Behavioural Processes 204, 104801.

Environmental enrichment (EE) is used to promote natural behaviours in captive animals and may hold promise as a form of pre-release training, a strategy for improving coping skills of translocated birds. We investigated the use of EE to enhance foraging and vigilance behaviours of captive Sporophila angolensis, which may be related to post-release survival. We also evaluated whether consistent individual behavioural differences affected birds’ responses to EE. We submitted 19 captive seed-finches to three short-term challenges: tonic immobility (TI), new environment (NE) and new object (NO) tests. TI behaviour is related to fear/escape response to potential predators and novelty tests (NE and NO) assess neophobia, which are ecologically relevant personality traits influencing the shyness-boldness continuum. We noted a pronounced variability among the individuals’ personality traits, both in their fear and escape-related responses in the TI test and along shy/bold z-scores in NE and NO tests. During a period of enrichment, birds spent more time foraging and less time in vigilance states compared with both control phases. Personality traits of the birds affected their responses to enrichment with bolder birds spending more time foraging. The EE-related decrease in vigilance was independent of the birds’ personality traits. Our findings highlight interactions between personality and rearing environment that may impact post-release outcomes for translocated animals.

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