Personality in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta): Investigating factor structure, and relationships with stress, grooming, and dominance.
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Examining personality in non-human primates provides a useful tool for understanding evolutionary bases. The following research focused on exploring the personality of captive ring-tailed lemurs, and its relationship with audience-related stress, grooming, and the ability to gain dominance. Seven females and two males at Edinburgh Zoo were observed for 12 weeks. Personality ratings were made by researchers and zoo keepers. Behavioural observations were made while recording the size and activity of the audience present, and duration of grooming was also sampled. Rank was assessed by net wins in agonistic interactions. Four personality factors were extracted: Dominance, Neuroticism-low Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness. Despite factor names, there was a large discrepancy with human dimensions, suggesting they are relics of early primate personality. Regarding audience effects, a larger audience was associated with fewer affiliative behaviours, and an increase in activity. There was no firm evidence to conclude visitors were disconcerting, however differences in Agreeableness influenced how the lemurs reacted to an audience. Scores on Extraversion were positively correlated with duration of received grooming, and Extraversion, Dominance, and Agreeableness scores were all positively associated with rank. Future research must focus on fully investigating the links between personality and stress, to identify high risk individuals in captivity.