Felix R.M. Beinlich

Life‐history trade‐offs mediate ‘personality’ variation in two colour morphs of the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum

Wiebke Schuett, Sasha R. X. Dall, Michaela H. Kloesener, Jana Baeumer, Felix Beinlich,  Till Eggers

Summary: Life‐history trade‐offs are considered a major driving force in the emergence of consistent behavioural differences (personality variation); but empirical tests are scarce. We investigated links between a personality trait (escape response), life‐history and state variables (growth rate, size and age at first reproduction, age‐dependent reproductive rates, lifetime reproductive success, life span) in red and green colour morphs of clonal pea aphids, Acyrthosiphon pisum. Escape response (dropping/non‐dropping off a plant upon a predatory attack) was measured repeatedly to classify individuals as consistent droppers, consistent nondroppers or inconsistents. Red morphs experienced stronger trade‐offs between early reproduction and life span than green morphs; and red consistent (non)droppers had highest lifetime reproductive success. Red droppers followed a risk‐averse life‐history strategy (high late reproduction), red nondroppers a risk‐prone strategy (high early reproduction), while reproductive rates were equivalent for all green behavioural types and red inconsistents. This suggests that red morphs suffer the highest costs of dropping (they are most conspicuous to predators), which ‘equivalates’ fitness payoffs to both risk‐takers (red non‐droppers) and risk‐averse red droppers. The strong trade‐off also means that committing to a particular lifestyle (being consistent) maximises fitness. Our study suggests that life‐history trade‐offs likely mediate personality variation but effects might depend on interactions with other organismal characteristics (here: colour morph).