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Journal Article

Does living in human-altered environments affect life-history and personality of wild mice?


Guenther,  Anja
Research Group Behavioural Ecology of Individual Differences (Guenther), Department Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Küçüktaş, F. M., & Guenther, A. (2022). Does living in human-altered environments affect life-history and personality of wild mice? Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10: 892752. doi:10.3389/fevo.2022.892752.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-E093-2
In urban habitats, animals are faced with different and often challenging environmentalconditions compared to their native habitats. Behavior is the fastest responseto environmental change and therefore a very important component to adjust tohuman-altered environments. Behaviors such as novelty responses and innovativenesswhich allow animals to cope with novel stimuli are often altered in urban populations.The mechanisms producing such adaptations are currently not well understood. Inthis study, we investigate whether urban living has an impact on the microevolutionof mouse behavioral and life-history traits including boldness, stress-coping, growth,longevity, and emphasis on reproduction. We hypothesized that animals living togetherwith humans for longer show increased novelty-seeking and boldness characteristicsat the species and subspecies level. We, therefore, compared behavior and lifehistory characteristics amongMus musculus, a commensal rodent,Mus spicilegusas a synanthropic but not commensal, andApodemus uralensisas a strictly ruralspecies. In addition, we compared three subspecies ofM. musculus(in total sixpopulations) that differ in the time living together with humans. Behavioral and lifehistory differences are stronger between populations even of the same subspeciesrather than showing a structural trend with the time animals have spent with humans. Inaddition, species differ in behavior and life history, albeit not in a pattern that suggests anevolutionary adaptation to living in human-altered habitats. We, therefore, suggest thatbehavioral adaptations of wild mice are geared toward environmental differences suchas geographic origin or habitat specifics but not necessarily directly evolve by livingtogether with humans.