Vaz-Serrano J, Ruiz-Gomez ML, Gjøen HM, Skov PV, Huntingford FA, Overli O, Höglund E
Physiol. Behav. 2011 Jun;103(3-4):359-64
Individual variation in the way animals cope with stressors has been documented in a number of animal groups. In general, two distinct sets of behavioural and physiological responses to stress have been described: the proactive and the reactive coping styles. Some characteristics of stress coping style seem to be coupled to the time to emerge of fry from spawning redds in natural populations of salmonid fishes. In the present study, behavioural and physiological traits of stress coping styles were compared two and five months after emergence in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), using individuals with an early or late time to emerge. Initially, compared to late emerging individuals, early emerging individuals showed a shorter time to resume feeding after transfer to rearing in isolation. Resumption of feeding after isolation was suggested to be related to boldness behaviour, rather than hunger, in the present study. This observation was repeated five months after emergence, demonstrating behavioural consistency over time in this trait. However, in other traits of proactive and reactive stress coping styles, such as social status, resting metabolism or post stress cortisol concentrations, early and late emerging individuals did not differ. Therefore, this study demonstrates that boldness in a novel environment is uncoupled from other traits of the proactive and reactive stress coping styles in farmed salmonids. It is possible that this decoupling is caused by the low competitive environment in which fish were reared. In natural populations of salmonids, however, the higher selection pressure at emergence could select for early emerging individuals with a proactive coping style.