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The power of personality

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Science  06 May 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6286, pp. 644-647
DOI: 10.1126/science.352.6286.644

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Summary

To a birdwatcher or pet owner, it may be obvious that individual animals have distinct personalities. However, that idea has been slow to penetrate biology. Yet now researchers are learning that just as human quirks and temperaments shape our lives and the world around us, the behavior patterns of individual animals affect their role in their ecosystem, their prospects for survival, and, ultimately, their evolution. Researchers have figured out how to quantify personality and are showing in studies of great tits, salamanders, stickleback fish, lizards, and social spiders why different personalities persist, how they might lead to speciation, and the role they might play in the spread of information and disease.