The bold and the shy one: Could woodlice have personalities?

July 30, 2015, Pensoft Publishers
The design of one experimental set. Dashed arrows symbolize repeated stimuli applied if previous stimulus did not evoke tonic immobility. Experimental sets were applied repeatedly over a three week period; each individual was exposed to five experimental sets with 4 days intervals between. Credit: Dr. Ivan Hadrián Tuf

Unlike larger animals and even other invertebrates, the theory for the presence of personality traits in terrestrial isopods had not been studied before the research conducted by Dr. Ivan Tuf's team.

Known to react to an external impact with varying in its duration death feigning, or tonic immobility, several hundreds of Common rough woodlice were observed while responding to random sequences of touch, squeeze and drop. When compared, the results showed there is in fact a significant individual pattern of defensive behaviour. The study is published in the open-access journal ZooKeys.

In order to prove that the tested P. scaber woodlice actually possess personalities, the scientists had to look for repetitiveness in their reactions to external impacts. Over the three-week observations, consisting of five experimental sets and four-day breaks, Dr. Tuf and his team recognised consistency in the reactions in the individuals. They even managed to identify some of them as "more 'bold'" and others - "more 'shy'."

However, a number of other factors were found to influence the woodlice' protective reactions such as habituation and . Ten minutes in a particular environment proved enough for a woodlouse to habituate it. As a result, their sensitivity towards the same stimuli decreased.

Similarly, it was not as noticeable with the larger specimens. Unlike their tinier relatives, they are capable of using chemical protection due to their better developed physiology. Nevertheless, the longest reaction time being measured in a medium-sized woodlice proves that body size is not of such importance.

Yet, it is still unclear whether the woodlice' behaviour changes over time. If such a trend is present, then their reactions to the is also likely to change.

"Investigation of long-time stability of behavioural traits in terrestrial isopods should be a possible goal of future studies," the scientists suggest in conclusion.

Explore further: Being calm is contagious?

More information: Tuf IH, Drábková L, Šipoš J (2015) Personality affects defensive behaviour of Porcellio scaber (Isopoda, Oniscidea). In: Taiti S, Hornung E, Štrus J, Bouchon D (Eds) Trends in Terrestrial Isopod Biology. ZooKeys 515: 159-171. DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.515.9429

Related Stories

Being calm is contagious?

June 11, 2015

Woodlice are able to calm their excited neighbors according to findings made by Pierre Broly and Jean-Louis Deneubourg of the Free Brussels University (Belgium).

Astronauts bring back new life

November 25, 2012

(Phys.org)—It is not every day that astronauts can claim to return to Earth with a new species of life. But when the astronauts on ESA's CAVES underground training course returned to the surface they were carrying a special ...

Study shows sharks have personalities

October 1, 2014

Some sharks are 'gregarious' and have strong social connections, whilst others are more solitary and prefer to remain inconspicuous, according to a new study which is the first to show that the notorious predators have personality ...

Recommended for you

Japan to make crater on asteroid to get underground samples

March 18, 2019

Japan's space agency said Monday that its Hayabusa2 spacecraft will follow up last month's touchdown on a distant asteroid with another risky mission—dropping an explosive on the asteroid to make a crater and then collect ...

Bright X-ray galactic nuclei

March 18, 2019

All massive galaxies are believed to host supermassive black holes (SMBH) at their centers that grow by accreting mass from their environment. The current picture also imagines that the black holes grow in size as their host ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.