Micro Personality

Threespine Stickleback fish swimming

That body language seems somehow… FISHY!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Confident strides, head held up high OR hunched back, looking for cracks in the pavement? The way we move says a lot about our personalities! Is this also true for ANIMALS? 

Joseph Bailey and the team from University of Essex wondered. The team filmed fifteen stickleback fish in a tank, carefully tracking their movements and recording data. How much time did they spend stationary? What was the average turn angle? Total distance travelled? 

Results? Each stickleback showed repeatable and unique patterns in its movements. For example, some fish spent more time moving, took more direct paths, or explored the tank more thoroughly than others did. 

The researchers believe that animal movements can be viewed as individual signatures, or “micro personalities.” They hope that analyzing movements could help us understand these animal signatures. Especially for species that are difficult for humans to communicate with. 

So, is your goldfish a Nemo or a Dory? Stride will tell…. 

Reference: Bailey, J. D., King, A. J., Codling, E. A., Short, A. M., Johns, G. I., & Fürtbauer, I. (2021). “Micropersonality” traits and their implications for behavioral and movement ecology research. Ecology and Evolution, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.7275