Prawns have personalities

Experts have observed a range of different behaviours among the crustacean community, suggesting individual prawns have their own distinct personalities.

Image Credit: Nicky Dobson

Evolving personalities

Experts have distinguished distinct personality types among our crustacean friends, from prudent prawns to show-off shrimps.

The meek shall inherit the rock pool, or so scientists at the University of Exeter investigating prawn behaviour have discovered.

A study of rock pool prawns has revealed that prawns exhibit distinct behaviours from exploration and boldness to cautiousness and reticence, and importantly their behaviour is consistent over time.

Findings reveal that the more cautious among the crustaceans have superior hunting skills and are more proficient at holding onto the food they find. Meanwhile, their more intrepid peers risk having their food snatched while they are off exploring.

Prawn to be mild

And it’s all because of evolution. The findings have helped researchers to understand that distinctions are down to the prawns’ different ways of finding food in an ever-shifting environment.

Rockpools change with each high tide. As conditions change, so different behaviours are required to hunt – as the rockpool prawns at Falmouth’s Gyllyngvase beach demonstrate.

“We found that shyer prawns were better at controlling a food source,” said Daniel Maskery, formerly of the University of Exeter but now at the University of Liverpool. “This means that when they found food and possible rivals were nearby, they stayed and fed for longer than bolder prawns. The reasons for this aren’t clear, but it’s possible that bolder prawns have a higher urge to go on and continue exploring.”

Enjoy the doings of sea creatures at the beach

So next time you’re enjoying the beautiful UK coast, it’s worth peering into the rockpools to say hello to the local residents, who are much happier going about gathering their own food in their particular individual ways than being hunted for food for tourists.

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You can read the study, Who dares doesn’t always win: risk-averse rockpool prawns are better at controlling a limited resource, in the journal Animal Behaviour [ https://www.journals.elsevier.com/animal-behaviour/] .

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