Quesada, J.; C. A. Chavez-Zichinelli; M. Garcia-Arroyo; P. J. Yeh; R. Guevara; J. Izquierdo-Palma and I. MacGregor-Fors

Bold or shy? Examining the risk-taking behavior and neophobia of invasive and non-invasive house sparrows. Behavior provides a useful framework for understanding specialization, with animal personality aiding our understanding of the invasiveness of birds. Invasions imply dispersion into unknown areas and could require changes in behavior or spatial clustering based on personality. Reduced neophobia and increased exploring behavior could allow individuals to colonize new areas as they test and use non-familiar resources. Here, we hypothesized that house sparrow (Passer domesticus) individuals from invasive populations would exhibit bolder behavior than in non-invasive populations. We assessed risk taking and neophobia in male house sparrows in Barcelona (where it is considered native) and in Mexico City (where it has become widely invasive), captured in two different habitats, urban and non-urban. We assessed latency to enter an experimental cage and to explore it, and latency to feed and feeding time in the presence of a novel object. We found that sparrows from Mexico City, both from urban and non-urban areas, were quicker to enter the experimental cage than the sparrows from Barcelona. The time it took the birds to start exploring the cage gave a similar result. We found no differences between cities or habitats in the latency to feed and feeding time while exposed to a novel object. Our results partially support the view that the invader populations from Mexico City are bolder than those from Barcelona. Behavior is an important component of plasticity and its variability may have an important effect on adaptation to local situations. Future studies should disentangle the underlying mechanisms that explain the different personalities found in populations of different regions, contrasting populations of different densities, and taking different food availability scenarios into account.