Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research

First Advisor

Semeniuk, Christina


behavioural ecology, behavioural flexibility, behavioural type, fitness, survival




Behaviour is often an individual’s first line of response to a stimulus, allowing them to adapt to changes and stressors in their environment. An individual’s behaviour is a product of environmental conditions, including local adaptation, rearing experience, and internal processes (e.g. metabolic rate). I examined the effects of early rearing experience, population differences (i.e. local adaptation/selection) and ontogeny on the behavioural repertoire of young yellow perch (Perca flavescens). They were tested in behavioural assays at three time points to quantify activity, exploration, neophilia and antipredator responses over ontogeny. Fitness correlates were used to explain behavioural differences, and survival was quantified to examine the fitness consequences of various behavioural types. Yellow perch show behavioural flexibility for activity and consistency for antipredator responses; their overall behavioural phenotype was characterized by coping styles, with some individuals showing relatively fixed phenotypes and others showing increases in activity, exploration and neophilia over time. An individual’s level of neophilia, degree of behavioural flexibility and their morphology were predictive of mortality.