Does the field of animal personality provide any new insights for behavioral ecology?
The field of animal personalities claims to fill a gap in our understanding of animal behavior, because it explicitly studies the adaptive significance of behavioral differences. This is a controversial claim given that the field of behavioral ecology firmly places the study of animal behavior in an evolutionary context. In fact, it is the evolutionary context that differentiates behavioral ecology from ethology and animal behavior, 2 fields that were already concerned with the study of
... he study of behavior in nonhuman animals. So, if behavioral ecology already takes an evolutionary approach to variation in behavior, we ask what is personality research about exactly? This question is particularly pertinent now the focus of personality research shifts and the field moves away from being mainly descriptive to include quantitative frameworks. As a result, the field has come to borrow heavily from already established fields. In our view, this has resulted in "animal personality" studies becoming nothing more than a rebranding of existing fields of research-fields that are far more solidly grounded and hypothesis driven than the often vague and superficial focus on animal personalities.