Polistes metricus queens exhibit personality variation and behavioral syndromes Academic Article uri icon

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  • Consistent differences in behavior between individuals, otherwise known as animal personalities, have become a staple in behavioral ecology due to their ability to explain a wide range of phenomena. Social organisms are especially serviceable to animal personality techniques because they can be used to explore behavioral variation at both the individual and group level. Despite the success of personality research in social organisms generally, and social Hymenoptera in particular, social wasps (Vespidae) have received little to no attention in the personality literature. In the present study, we test Polistes metricus (Vespidae; Polistinae) paper wasp queens for the presence of repeatable variation in, and correlations ("behavioral syndromes") between, several commonly used personality metrics: boldness, aggressiveness, exploration, and activity. Our results indicate that P. metricus queens exhibit personalities for all measured traits and correlations between different behavioral measures. Given that paper wasps have served as a model organism for a wide range of phenomena such as kin selection, dominance hierarchies, mate choice, facial recognition, social parasitism, and chemical recognition, we hope that our results will motivate researchers to explore whether, or to what degree, queen personality is important in their research programs.


  • Wright, Colin M
  • Hyland, Trevor D
  • Izzo, Amanda S
  • McDermott, Donna R
  • Tibbetts, Elizabeth A
  • Pruitt, Jonathan

publication date

  • February 1, 2018