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Consistency of between-individual differences in behaviour or personality is a phenomenon in populations that can have ecological consequences and evolutionary potential. One way that behaviour can evolve is to have a genetic basis. Identifying the molecular genetic basis of personality could therefore provide insight into how and why such variation is maintained, particularly in natural populations. Previously identified candidate genes for personality in birds include the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4), and serotonin transporter (SERT). Studies of wild bird populations have shown that exploratory and bold behaviours are associated with polymorphisms in both DRD4 and SERT. Here we tested for polymorphisms in DRD4 and SERT in the Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) population on Cousin Island, Seychelles, and then investigated correlations between personality and polymorphisms in these genes. We found no genetic variation in DRD4, but identified four polymorphisms in SERT that clustered into five haplotypes. There was no correlation between bold or exploratory behaviours and SERT polymorphisms/haplotypes. The null result was not due to lack of power, and indicates that there was no association between these behaviours and variation in the candidate genes tested in this population. These null findings provide important data to facilitate representative future meta-analyses on candidate personality genes.

Original publication





PloS one

Publication Date





Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom.


Animals, Songbirds, Avian Proteins, Personality, Haplotypes, Polymorphism, Genetic, Seychelles, Serotonin Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins, Receptors, Dopamine D4