Behavioural differences between individuals and two populations of stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

J Evol Biol. 2005 Mar;18(2):464-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00817.x.


Behavioural syndromes are correlations between behaviours in different functional contexts. Behavioural syndromes are attracting the attention of evolutionary biologists because they mean that different behaviours might not be free to evolve independently of one another. In a landmark study, Huntingford (1976) showed that individual stickleback which were bold toward predators were also aggressive toward conspecifics and active in an unfamiliar environment. Here, I revisited the activity-aggression-boldness syndrome in stickleback and tested the hypothesis that correlations between behaviours might act as evolutionary constraints. I measured a suite of behaviours on wild-caught individuals and their offspring from two different populations and calculated heritabilities and genetic correlations between the different behaviours. I found that these behaviours were phenotypically and genetically correlated in one population but not another. On average, boldness and aggression were negatively related to each other across the populations. These results suggest that behavioural syndromes don't always act as evolutionary constraints.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • California
  • Environment*
  • Fresh Water
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Observation
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Smegmamorpha / physiology*