Exploring the genetics of nestling personality traits in a wild passerine bird: testing the phenotypic gambit
Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Ecology and Evolution published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Ecology and Evolution
Volume 2, Issue 12, pages 3032–3044, December 2012
How to Cite
Ecology and Evolution 2012; 2(12): 3032–3044
- Issue published online: 13 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 2 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 25 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 22 SEP 2012
- Academy of Finland. Grant Number: 1131390
- Emil Aaltonen Foundation
- Ella and Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation
- animal personality;
- cross foster;
- genetic correlation;
- quantitative genetics;
- wild population
When several personality traits covary, they form a behavioral syndrome. Understanding the evolutionary dynamics of a behavioral syndrome requires knowledge of its genetic underpinning. At present, our understanding of the genetic basis of behavioral syndromes is largely restricted to domestic and laboratory animals. Wild behavioral syndromes are mostly inferred on the basis of phenotypic correlations, and thus make the “phenotypic gambit” of assuming that these phenotypic correlations capture the underlying genetic correlations. On the basis of 3 years of reciprocal cross-fostering of 2896 nestlings of 271 families within a pedigreed population, we show that the nestling personality traits handling aggression, breathing rate, and docility are heritable (h2 = 16–29%), and often have a pronounced “nest-of-rearing” variance component (10–15%), but a relatively small “nest-of-origin” variance component (0–7%). The three nestling personality traits form a behavioral syndrome on the phenotypic and genetic level. Overall, the phenotypic correlations provide a satisfactory description of the genetic ones, but significantly underestimate the magnitude of one of the pairwise genetic correlations, which mirrors the conclusion based on domestic and laboratory studies.