Animal personality has emerged as a key concept in behavioral ecology. While many studies have demonstrated the influence of personality traits on behavioral patterns, its quantification, especially in wild animal populations, remains a challenge. Only a few studies have established a link between personality and recurring movements within home ranges, although these small-scale movements are of key importance for identifying ecological interactions and forming individual niches. In this regard, differences in space use among individuals might reflect different exploration styles between behavioral types along the shy-bold continuum.
By combining standardized behavioral tests under open field arena conditions and biologging of activity and space use of free-ranging individuals, we found that among-individual differences along the shy-bold continuum are consistent over time and related to overall activity and space use in European hares. Furthermore, we demonstrated how remote assessment of personality types without additional disturbance of the focal individual is achievable.
Dissimilarity in space use and movement of bold and shy individuals might reflect different exploration styles between behavioral types along the shy-bold continuum. In general, resources are dispersed across a landscape [77, 78], but parts of a home range with higher resource density should be more important than those with fewer. Particularly bold individuals might successfully defend larger portions of these high-value areas, whereas shy individuals might be more likely to roam in search of less contested habitats, resulting in larger home ranges with smaller core areas. Hence, we suggest that bold hares are more successful in competing for valuable areas against shy individuals, forcing them to continue moving to find an unoccupied, suitable habitat.
Considering animal personalities in space use studies might be crucial, as there is increasing evidence that sampling bias may inevitably influence the composition of animal personalities within a drawn sample and therefore the results of the respective study [4, 93]. Behavioral and ecological studies of various species may be affected, as the test subjects may not represent larger populations whose ecological patterns the researchers seek to understand. For example, due to well-established sampling protocols, bolder individuals are more likely to be trapped. In a study with pumpkinseed sunfish, Lepomis gibbosus, Wilson and others  noted that some fish were so shy that it was impossible to catch them even once, whereas bolder specimens were caught repeatedly . Further studies have drawn attention to this personality-related sampling bias [95,96,97,98,99], suggesting that the assumption of random sampling might have been violated in many studies . Although we do not know to what extent we could represent the extent of the shy-bold continuum in hares, we found substantial variation along its axis and demonstrated related differences in activity and space use. 59ce067264