Linking organismal growth, coping styles, stress reactivity, and metabolism via responses against a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in an insect


Evidence suggests that brain serotonin (5-HT) is one of the central mediators of different types of animal personality. We tested this assumption in field crickets Gryllus integer using a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Crickets were selected for slow and rapid development and tested for their coping styles under non-stressful conditions (time spent exploring a novel object). Resting metabolic rate, maximum metabolic rate and latency to resume activity were measured under stressful conditions (stress reactivity). Measurements were taken (i) before and (ii) during the SSRI treatment. Before the SSRI treatment, a strong negative correlation was observed between coping style and stress reactivity, which suggests the existence of a behavioral syndrome. After the SSRI treatment, the syndrome was no longer evident. The results of this study show that 5-HT may be involved in regulating behavior not only along a stress reactivity gradient but also along a coping styles axis. The relationship between personality and the strength and direction of 5-HT treatment on observed behaviors indicates trait-like individual differences in 5-HT signaling. Overall, these findings do not support recent ideas arising from the pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis, which predict higher exploration and metabolic rates in rapidly developing bold animals.

Scientific Reports