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Title:Behavioral type - environment correlations in three-spined stickleback
Author(s):Pearish, Simon
Director of Research:Bell, Alison M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bell, Alison M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Suarez, Andrew V.; Garber, Paul A.; Wahl, David H.
Department / Program:School of Integrative Biology
Discipline:Ecol, Evol, Conservation Biol
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):animal personality
exploratory behavior
social environment
habitat choice
fish school
body condition
Abstract:The aim of the research included in this dissertation is to contribute to our understanding of how consistent individual differences in behavior, so called animal personality, influences differences in how individuals within populations interact with their environment. The specific aim of the work reported herein was to understand how non-random associations between the behavioral phenotype of individuals and the environment in which they occurred in the wild, hereafter referred to as behavioral type-environment correlations, affected important evolutionary and ecological processes in the three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). In the first chapter I documented two such behavioral type-environment correlations, one between boldness and social environment and the other between exploratory behavior and habitat type. In the second chapter I test the hypothesis that behavioral type-environment correlations are generated via natural selection. My goal in the third chapter was to compare the predictive power of different factors that might explain why certain individual three-spined stickleback disperse greater distances than others, including exploratory behavior, social environment, habitat type, and physiological well-being. In the final chapter, I present an improved methodological approach for quantifying consistent individual differences in schooling behavior that utilizes a model ‘school’ in place of live conspecifics. This work advances our understanding of how the ecological niche is shaped by the behavior of individuals. Through my own empirical evidence and a review of literature, I argue that behavioral type-environment correlations are likely to be prevalent in nature. I provide a framework for future research by describing various mechanisms that might generate behavioral type-environment correlations. Much of the fieldwork presented is aimed at elucidating the causes and consequences of behavioral type-environment correlations in nature. For example in chapter two, I provide evidence that natural selection might generate a correlation between boldness and social environment. Chapter three provides a cautionary tale about jumping to conclusions concerning the ecological implications of consistent individual differences in behavior by showing that exploratory behavior is a relatively poor predictor of dispersal distance, a result that defies several previous field studies. Instead, the habitat in which the fish occured and its physiological well-being were better predictors of dispersal distance. This dissertation is a step forward in research at the intersection of animal personality and ecological niche. The data, collected mostly in the field, fills an empirical gap in our understanding of animal personality, which has been based heavily on laboratory-based research. This collection demonstrates the important evolutionary and ecological implications of behavioral type-environment correlations. My hope is to inspire future work that teases apart the causes and consequences of behavioral type-environment correlations through fieldwork and carefully planned experimentation.
Issue Date:2014-09-16
Rights Information:Copyright 2014 Simon Pearish
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-09-16
Date Deposited:2014-08

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