Dataset: Consistent after all: behavioural repeatability in a long-lived lizard across a 6-year field study

Published: 29-01-2021| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/vk723z9d5t.3
Eric Payne,
David Sinn,
Orr Spiegel,
Stephan Leu,
Michael Gardner,
Stephanie Godfrey,
Caroline Wohlfeil,
Andrew Sih


This dataset contains the data used in Payne et al. (2021) Animal Behaviour. Consistent after all: behavioural repeatability in a long-lived lizard across a 6-year field study. In Payne et al. (2021), we studied animal personalities over an 8-year period, representing 6 study years, in a wild population of the long-lived sleepy lizard, Tiliqua rugosa. Using Bayesian generalized linear mixed models for 170 unique individuals and a total of 379 lizard-years, we 1) considered the effects of a suite of predictors – particularly lizard sex, mass, and tick counts – on lizard aggression and boldness; 2) assessed repeatability (i.e., consistent differences among individuals) of these behaviours over different time scales and between lizard sexes; and 3) evaluated the correlation, or behavioural syndrome, between aggression and boldness. We found that males were marginally more aggressive and bolder than females, mass had no significant effect, and tick loads exhibited a positive relationship with aggression and boldness. For repeatability, we found that even with the long timescales considered in this study, aggression and boldness were both repeatable – across the entire dataset (~0.4 and ~0.3, respectively), as well as among years (~0.4 and ~0.4, respectively). Repeatability did not differ substantially between the sexes. We found no syndrome between aggression and boldness. Our results are notable because they demonstrate that wild animals may exhibit consistent personality differences in ecologically-relevant behaviours over extended periods, even in the face of substantial temporal variation in ecological and social factors. The data provided here include the information required for our analyses. Briefly, sleepy lizards in our study site (near Maude, South Australia) have a limited activity season, mainly August - December. During these seasons, we repeatedly captured lizards, assessing their ticks, mass, sex, and behaviour. The csv file (behavior_data.csv) in this dataset includes these variables (e.g., aggression and boldness scores, trial dates, tick counts, etc). For more details on our methodology and the study system, please see Payne et al. (2021) and citations therein. Please also see the meta file ( included with the dataset, which describes our variables in detail. The meta file is in markdown format, which can be opened in any program capable of viewing plain text files.