Genetic integration of local dispersal and exploratory behaviour in a wild bird

Peter Korsten, Thijs van Overveld, Frank Adriaensen, Erik Matthysen

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68 Citations (Scopus)
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Dispersal is a major determinant of the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of natural populations. Individuals differ greatly in the likelihood and distance of dispersal, but it is generally unclear to what extent intrinsic, possibly genetic, differences contribute. Here we present the first explicit empirical evidence for genetic coupling of local dispersal and exploratory behaviour, a key 'animal personality' trait. Using relatedness data from a multi-generation pedigree of free-living great tits (Parus major), we find quantitative genetic variation for both the distance of local dispersal within our study area and the rate at which individuals explore a novel environment. Moreover, we find a strongly positive genetic correlation between local dispersal distance and exploration rate, despite a weak and non-significant phenotypic correlation. These findings demonstrate a potentially important behavioural mechanism underlying heritable differences in local dispersal and highlight the potential for concerted evolution of dispersal and animal personality in response to selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2362
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


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