Anja Guenther

Anja Guenther
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology · Department of Evolutionary Genetics

Dr.

About

47
Publications
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543
Citations
Introduction
Phenotypic plasticity, Animal personality, Consequences of the early environment & behavioural development

Publications

Publications (47)
Article
Full-text available
The ability to produce innovative behaviour is a key determinant in the successful coping with environmental challenges and changes. The expansion of human-altered environments presents wildlife with multiple novel situations in which innovativeness could be beneficial. A better understanding of the drivers of within-species variation in innovation...
Article
Humans have a large impact on the distribution and abundance of animal species worldwide. The ecological effects of human-altered environments are being increasingly recognized and understood, but their effects on evolution are largely unknown. Enhanced cognitive abilities and the ability to innovate have been suggested as crucial traits for thrivi...
Article
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Laboratory mice are predominantly used for one experiment only, i.e., new mice are ordered or bred for every new experiment. Moreover, most experiments use relatively young mice in the range of late adolescence to early adulthood. As a consequence, little is known about the day-to-day life of adult and aged laboratory mice. Here we present a long-t...
Article
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In urban habitats, animals are faced with different and often challenging environmental conditions compared to their native habitats. Behavior is the fastest response to environmental change and therefore a very important component to adjust to human-altered environments. Behaviors such as novelty responses and innovativeness which allow animals to...
Article
To survive and reproduce successfully, animals have to find the optimal time of breeding. Species living in nontropical environments often adjust their reproduction plastically according to seasonal changes of the environment. Information about the prevailing season can be transmitted in utero, leading to the adaptation of the offspring to the prev...
Article
Pace-of-life syndromes (POLSs) are suites of life-history, physiological and behavioral traits that arise due to trade-offs between allocation to current and future reproduction. Traits generally show covariation that can arise from genetic and environmental influences on phenotypes and constrain the independent evolution of traits, resulting in fi...
Article
Considerable interindividual variation in behaviour, including learning ability and personality, exists within populations. Recent research has suggested that these two traits might covary; that is, the expression of certain personality traits might be correlated with learning ability. We experimentally tested this hypothesis under controlled labor...
Article
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Cavia aperea is a wild guinea pig found throughout South America. The previously published mitochondrial sequence for C. aperea was highly divergent from the C. porcellus sequence and contained stop codons within open reading frames. Here we resequenced the mitochondrial genomes of C. aperea and C. porcellus. Both sequences reflect gene organizatio...
Article
Consistent between-individual differences in behaviour have been documented across the animal kingdom. Such variation between individuals has been shown to be the basis for selection and to act as a pacemaker for evolutionary change. Recently, equivocal evidence suggests that such consistent between-individual variation is also present in hormones....
Article
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Reproduction is one of the costliest processes in the life of an animal. Life history theory assumes that when resources are limiting allocation to reproduction will reduce allocation to other essential processes thereby inducing costs of reproduction. The immune system is vital for survival. If reproduction reduces investment in immune function, t...
Article
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Stability of personality traits is well-documented for a wide variety of animals. However, previous results also suggest that behavioral phenotypes are plastic during early ontogeny and can be adaptively shaped to the social environment. In cavies (Cavia aperea), it has already been documented that the size at birth relative to siblings (size rank)...
Preprint
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A range of life-history strategies along a slow-fast continuum emerge due to trade-offs between allocation to current and future reproduction. Pace-of-life syndromes (POLS) are suites of correlated life-history, physiological and behavioral traits that arise due to these trade-offs. The notion that correlations among traits may vary between populat...
Article
Personality traits in animals are often measured using standardised behavioural tests for activity, boldness/shyness, sociability, aggression and exploration. These tests are quick and convenient, as well as easy to repeat. As the interest in studying the impact of animal personality on ecological and evolutionary consequences has been growing rapi...
Article
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Species following a fast life history are expected to express fitness costs mainly as increased mortality, while slow‐lived species should suffer fertility costs. Because observational studies have limited power to disentangle intrinsic and extrinsic factors influencing senescence, we manipulated reproductive effort experimentally in the cavy (Cavi...
Article
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Animal personality may affect an animal’s mobility in a given landscape, influencing its propensity to take risks in an unknown environment. We investigated the mobility of translocated common voles in two corridor systems 60 m in length and differing in width (1 m and 3 m). Voles were behaviorally phenotyped in repeated open field and barrier test...
Article
Full-text available
Animal personality may affect an animal’s mobility in a given landscape, influencing its propensity to take risks in an unknown environment. We investigated the mobility of translocated common voles in two corridor systems 60 m in length and differing in width (1 m and 3 m). Voles were behaviorally phenotyped in repeated open field and barrier test...
Article
Full-text available
As part of the European Conference on Behavioral Biology 2018, we organized a symposium entitled, “Animal personality: providing new insights into behavior?” The aims of this symposium were to address current research in the personality field, spanning both behavioral ecology and psychology, to highlight the future directions for this research, and...
Article
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The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis predicts that behavior and physiology covary with life history. Evidence for such covariation is contradictory, possibly because systematic sources of variation (e.g. sex) have been neglected. Sexes often experience different selection pressures leading to sex-specific allocation between reproduction and...
Article
Despite the growing evidence for the importance of developmental experiences shaping consistent individual differences in behaviour and physiology, the role of endocrine factors underlying the development and maintenance of such differences across multiple traits, remains poorly understood. Here, we investigated how an experimental manipulation of...
Article
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Environmental variation strongly influences individual life histories, behavior, and immunity. For many animals living in non-tropical regions, environmental variation due to season is very important and can be reliably predicted by photoperiod. By manipulating the pre- and post-natal photoperiod for cavies (Cavia aperea), we simulated different bi...
Article
Finding the optimal timing for breeding is crucial for small mammals to ensure survival and maximize lifetime reproductive success. Species living in temperate regions therefore often restrict breeding to seasons with favorable food and weather conditions. Although caviomorph rodents such as guinea pigs are described as non-seasonal breeders, a ser...
Article
Life-history trade-offs are predicted to contribute to the maintenance of personality variation. Individuals with 'fast' lifestyles should develop faster, reproduce earlier and exhibit more risky behaviours. Evidence for such predicted links, however, remains equivocal. Here, I test how growth rate, timing of maturation, litter size and maternal ef...
Article
Individuals within species differ consistently in their behaviour. Such individual differences may represent adaptations. Recently, researchers have started to implement the same adaptive framework to individual differences in cognition, leading to the suggestion that personality and cognition should covary. To determine the contextual consistency...
Article
In human psychological research, personality traits as well as cognitive traits are usually validated for both, their stability over time and contexts. While stability over time gives an estimate on how genetically fixated a trait can be, correlations across traits have the power to reveal linkages or trade − offs. In animals, these validations hav...
Article
Behavioural differences between individuals are often found to be consistent across contexts and/or over time, although recent studies suggest that ontogenetic processes and learning might influence personality. During ontogeny, environmental influences may play an important role in shaping an individual’s personality as well as its physiology. Sea...
Article
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Background: Prenatal conditions influence offspring development in many species. In mammals, the effects of social density have traditionally been considered a detrimental form of maternal stress. Now their potential adaptive significance is receiving greater attention.Sex-specific effects of maternal social instability on offspring in guinea pigs...
Article
Fetal growth during pregnancy has previously been studied in the domesticated guinea pig (Cavia aperea f. porcellus) after dissecting pregnant females, but there are no studies describing the fetal growth in their wild progenitor, the wild guinea pig (Cavia aperea). In this study, 50 pregnancies of wild guinea pig sows were investigated using moder...
Article
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The prenatal social environment affects offspring development in most studied taxa with potentially lifelong consequences. To understand the adaptive significance of such maternal influences on offspring development, it is important to study their effects on fitness. In guinea pigs, social instability during pregnancy leads to delayed development o...
Article
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The domestication process leads to a change in behavioural traits, usually towards individuals that are less attentive to changes in their environment and less aggressive. Empirical evidence for a difference in cognitive performance, however, is scarce. Recently, a functional linkage between an individual's behaviour and cognitive performance has b...
Article
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The role of ontogenetic processes for the emergence of personality has received only little attention in the past. One reason for the lack of experimental studies on personality development may be that trait consistency over time is one of the cornerstones of the definition of animal personality, whereas, also by definition, ontogeny deals with cha...
Article
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Rodents are the most abundant experimental nonhuman animals and are commonly studied under standard laboratory housing conditions. As housing conditions affect animals' physiology and behavior, this study investigated the effects of indoor and outdoor housing conditions on body weight and cortisol level of wild cavies, Cavia aperea. The changing ho...
Article
Full-text available
The evolution and maintenance of consistent individual differences, so called animal personalities, have attracted much research interest over the past decades. Variation along common personality traits, such as boldness or exploration, is often associated with risk-reward trade-offs. Individuals that are bolder and hence take more risks may be mor...
Article
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Reproducibility of results is a fundamental tenet of science. In this journal, Richter et al.1 tested whether systematic variation in experimental conditions (heterogenization) affects the reproducibility of results. Comparing this approach with the current standard of ensuring reproducibility through minimizing variation in experimental conditions...
Article
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Behavioral, physiological, and life-history traits can be modified through interactions with environmental conditions during ontogeny. Until recently, the ecological and social circumstances influencing the developing phenotype have not been investigated in much detail. Nevertheless, they represent an important step in niche construction by which t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Prenatal environment influences early development in many species, shaping their morphology, physiology or behavior. In mammals, research has focused on the negative effects of high social density during the mother's pregnancy on offspring phenotype. Guinea pigs have a long pregnancy and are highly precocial, resulting in a large scope for prenatal...

Projects

Projects (4)
Project
Heterogeneity in the onset, rate and duration of reproduction (collectively, pace-of-life) may covary predictably with physiological and behavioral traits due to certain shared selective pressures, forming pace-of-life syndromes. The existence of such syndromes may help explain differences in the adaptability of species, flexibility of individual life history profiles, and constraints on trait evolution. Selective pressures originating from the environment or associated with sex-specific life history optimization likely play a key role in molding such syndromes, but these effects are thus far poorly understood. We aim to advance the theory to generate broad predictions on the evolution of pace-of-life syndromes through literature synthesis and conceptual work.