Data of high and long-term repeatability of foot-use preference in a wild songbird

Published: 16 April 2024| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/r6c97ywjd4.1
WanZhu Chen


Behavioural lateralization, reflecting the asymmetry of brain structure and function, may influence an individual’s fitness and has received increasing research efforts in recent years. The repeatability of the lateralized behaviour is a precondition for correlating it with fitness traits. Currently, studies on the repeatability of behavioural lateralization are mainly focused on captive animals, with the knowledge about wild populations remaining scarce. We examined the repeatability of the preference of foot-use (i.e. footedness) for grasping food against the perch in wild-caught Japanese tits (Parus minor) by testing a group of captive-raised birds within 16 days and testing the birds living in the wild with recapture interval ranging from 0 days to 1169 days. It was found that individual sex and test interval did not affect their footedness score. High repeatability of footedness was found for both the captive group (R = 0.958) and the wild-recapture group (R = 0.892). Across different recapture intervals of the wild-recapture group (0−60 days, 61−120 days, 121 days−1 year, and > 1 year), the repeatability varied between 0.765 and 0.989, suggesting consistent foot-use preference across seasons. Compared to the lateralized behaviours in most other species, footedness in wild Japanese tits showed a higher level of repeatability. We suggest that high repeatability of footedness may be a feature of the Paridae birds and that these species could be ideal systems for understanding the evolution of behavioural/cerebral lateralization for their potential to explore the interplay between lateralization and other fitness-related behaviours in the wild.



Beijing Forestry University


Behavioral Lateralization


National Natural Science Foundation of China


National Natural Science Foundation of China