Committee Chair

Hayes, Loren D.

Committee Member

Gaudin, Timothy; Klug, Hope


Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Animal personality represents consistent variation among individual behaviors that are repeatable across time and contexts. Recent research in behavioral ecology has revealed that animal personality influences ecological and evolutionary processes, and a growing number of studies demonstrate that personality can play a large role in the interactions among group-living animals. I studied the common degu (Octodon degus), a social and group-living rodent, to evaluate whether three personality traits (aggression, boldness, and activity level) play a role in shaping competitive interactions and composition of social groups, and whether these interactions influence the fitness of individuals in groups. Aggression was the only repeatable trait in the population, and I did not find personality traits to influence competitive outcome or group composition. Personality also did not affect fitness of individuals in groups. I discuss ecological and social contexts that might have influenced this population of degus and provide direction for future personality studies.


I would first like to acknowledge my parents, whose unfaltering support allowed me the freedom to pursue my love for nature and her inhabitants. To my friends and family, near and far, for laughs, deep talks, and comfort when I needed it most. And to C; thank you for sharing in this experience with me and motivating me through the tough spots. I am very thankful for my collaborators Nick Johnson and Drs. Luis Ebensperger and Rodrigo Vásquez, for the lab space and assistance. To all the field technicians, this project would not have been possible without you. I would also like to thank my committee members, Drs. Hope Klug and Timothy Gaudin, for their time and expertise. Additionally, I would like to thank the National Science Foundation for funding my research and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for funding both my research and education. Lastly, I want to thank my dedicated adviser, Dr. Loren Hayes, for this amazing opportunity, for his guidance, help, and advice, and for always challenging me to become a better scientist. Oh, and for the gin-gins.


M. S.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Science.




Octodontidae; Social behavior in animals; Degus


Personality; Competition; Social organization; Fitness; Mammal; Octodon degus

Document Type

Masters theses




xii, 66 leaves





Date Available