Applications of Personality to the Management and Conservation of Nonhuman Animals

  • David M. Powell
  • Marieke Cassia Gartner
Part of the Primatology Monographs book series (PrimMono)


A growing body of literature over the last two and a half decades has shown us that, like humans, nonhuman animals demonstrate consistent behavioral differences from one another and sometimes from one population to another. These differences have been termed personality (e.g., Gosling and John 1999), temperament (e.g., Hansen and Møller 2001), and behavioral syndromes and types (e.g., Sih et al.2004). These concepts have come from a variety of disciplines, including comparative psychology, behavioral ecology, evolutionary biology, ethology, and population genetics. Although people who work with animals regularly have known for some time that animals demonstrate these consistent behavioral traits, it has not been until recently that scientists have formally recognized the phenomenon in animals and actively engaged in research in this area. What were historically considered curious differences between individuals and populations are now thought to be of major significance in understanding how animals make decisions, how they interact with individuals of their own and other species, and how their populations evolve. It has also been suggested that these differences have or will have an influence on the persistence of populations in the face of anthropogenic environmental change (e.g., McDougall et al.2006) and the likelihood that populations of some species can be reestablished in the wild (e.g., Bremner-Harrison et al.2004).


Giant Panda Personality Type Nonhuman Animal Behavioral Syndrome Captive Animal 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wildlife Conservation SocietyBronxUSA
  2. 2.Psychology, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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