Is there any real differences between keeping a sourdough starter at a thick dough like consistency compared to a more watery consistency? Aside from the general thoughts of thicker being easier to keep.
Since a starter is actually a symbiotic mixture of microorganisms, factors like hydration level can change the balance of bacteria and yeasts. Depending on which organisms are favored, it can change the flavor, gas production, etc. They're not necessarily "benefits", but different consistencies can definitely produce different starters. The biggest and most consistent difference that I can think of would be that wetter starters are usually more active.