Biodiv Sci ›› 2023, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (4): 22446.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2022446

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Research progress on the effect of intraspecific personality differences on seed dispersal in rodents

Jiming Cheng, Huimin He, Hongyu Niu, Hongmao Zhang*()   

  1. Institute of Evolution and Ecology, School of Life Sciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079
  • Received:2022-08-03 Accepted:2022-10-27 Online:2023-04-20 Published:2023-04-20
  • Contact: *E-mail:


Background & Aims:The relationship between rodents and seeds represents an integral component of the structure and functional maintenance of forest ecosystems. Previous literature has characterized how this relationship may influence aspects of rodent behavior, population dynamics, community structures, interspecific cooperation and competition, plant seed characteristics, and environmental factors. However, there is a dearth of literature examining the effects of intraspecific variation of rodents on seed dispersal. We aim to review how intraspecific traits (especially personalities) of rodents affect seed dispersal, which it may present an important alternative path towards understanding the wide variation of seed fates.

Progress: Empirical investigations have supported the notion that animal personalities are one important feature of intraspecific variation between animals. Despite this, few studies have aimed to test the ecological repercussions (i.e. seed dispersal) that result from varying rodent personalities. This presents a major limitation, as it creates a significant gap in our understanding of how rodent personalities influence seed dispersal and plant regeneration mechanisms. In order to better understand this gap study, we introduce the progress in the research of rodent personality and then introduce the common methods for personality measurements of rodents (e.g. open-field test, emergence test and hole-board test). We highlight the effect of rodent personality on seed dispersal and specifically point out the relationship between the single personality (not behavioral syndromes) of rodents (e.g. boldness, activity and exploration) and seed dispersal. Finally, we summarize the ecological, evolutionary, and conservation consequences of rodent personality in mediating seed dispersal.

Going Forward: More research is needed to design both suitable methods to evaluate personality characteristics of wild rodents, as well as to develop long-term monitoring techniques that would allow for longitudinal investigation of the relationships between personality variation in rodents and seed dispersal.

Key words: animal personality, seed dispersal, personality measurement, intraspecific variation, plant regeneration