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Personality and metabolic rate are predicted to show covariance on methodological and functional grounds, but empirical studies at the individual level are rare, especially in natural populations. Here we assess the relationship between exploration behaviour, an important axis of personality, and basal metabolic rate (BMR) for 680 free-living great tits Parus major, studied over three years. We find that exploration behaviour is weakly negatively related to BMR among female, but not male, birds. Moreover, we find exploration behaviour to be independent of methodological aspects of BMR measurements (e.g. activity levels, time to acclimatize) which have been suggested to be indicative of personality-related activity or stress levels during measurement. This suggests that the weak link between exploration behaviour and BMR found here is functional rather than methodological. We therefore test the hypothesis that selection favours covariance between exploration behaviour and metabolic rate, but find no evidence for correlational survival or fecundity selection. Our data therefore provide at best only very weak evidence for a functional link between personality and metabolic rate, and we suggest that studies of personality and metabolic strategies, or personality and daily energy expenditure, are required to further resolve the link between personality and metabolic rate. © 2013 The Authors.

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56 - 62