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New coping styles for a new world
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  • Bastien Sadoul,
  • Daniel Blumstein,
  • Sébastien Alfonso,
  • Benjamin Geffroy
Bastien Sadoul
Ifremer Département Ressources Biologiques et Environnement

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Daniel Blumstein
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Sébastien Alfonso
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Benjamin Geffroy
Ifremer Département Ressources Biologiques et Environnement
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Humans currently occupy all continents and by doing so, modify the environment and create novel threats to many species; a phenomenon known as human-induced rapid environmental changes (HIREC). These growing anthropogenic disturbances represent major and relatively new environmental challenges for many animals, and invariably alter selection on traits adapted to previous environments. Those species that survive often have modified their habitat or their phenotype through plasticity or genetic evolution. Based on the most recent advances in this research area, we predict that individuals with highly plastic capacities, those that are generally shy, with high cognitive abilities and stress responses – in other words, individuals displaying a reactive phenotype – would better perform in human-modified landscapes than their counterparts’ proactive phenotypes. Moreover, we hypothesize that when human presence reduces predation, this decouples commonly associated traits resulting in a new range of phenotypes, with individuals characterized by low aggressiveness and physiological stress responses but high boldness, cognitive abilities and plasticity. We coin these individuals as “preactive”, being part proactive and part reactive. While supported by some studies, demonstrating the existence of this new coping style will require additional multivariate studies investigating behavioral and physiological responses to multiple challenges in HIREC impacted species.