On the search for grazing personalities: From individual to collective behaviors
While grazing lands can offer a diverse range of forages, individuals within herds prefer to graze some habitats and not others. They can have consistent differences in grazing patterns and occupy specific spatial domains, whilst developing tactics and strategies for foraging that are specific to their grazing personalities. In this review, we explore the development of our understanding of grazing personalities, as we move away from the search for an “optimal animal” toward designing behavior-customized herds with an arrangement of individual grazing personalities that enhance ecosystem services and productivity. We present a “grazing personality model” that accounts for the personality of individual animals and for collective behaviors of herds. We argue that grazing personalities of grazing ruminants and other large herbivores are in part genetically determined, and that they can act at the individual and collective level. The social and biophysical environments as well as the emotional state of animals regulate the expression of “grazing genes” that are observed phenotypically as distinct grazing personalities. The reproductive and sexual successes of individuals and herds filter for allele variants of grazing genes and in turn determines their relative frequency. While the selection of one grazing personality may be adequate for homogeneous pastoral systems, the design of herds with a range of grazing personalities that are matched to the habitat diversity may be a better approach to improving the distribution of grazing animals, enhancing ecosystem services, and maximizing productivity.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsgrazing patterns; behavioral syndromes; conceptual model; genotype-to-phenotype associations; heritability; social environment; personality plasticity
Fields of Research0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management; 0702 Animal Production; 060801 Animal Behaviour
© 2020 Moreno García, Maxwell, Hickford and Gregorini.