Population differences in behaviour are explained by shared within-population trait correlations


Jonathan N. Pruitt, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville TN 37996-1610, USA.
Tel.: 863 289 4078; fax: 865 974 3067; e-mail: jpruitt6@utk.edu


Correlations in behavioural traits across time, situation and ecological context (i.e. ‘behavioural syndromes’ or ‘personality’) have been documented for a variety of behaviours, and in diverse taxa. Perhaps the most controversial inference from the behavioural syndromes literature is that correlated behaviour may act as an evolutionary constraint and evolutionary change in one’s behaviour may necessarily involve shifts in others. We test the two predictions of this hypothesis using comparative data from eighteen populations of the socially polymorphic spider, Anelosimus studiosus (Araneae, Theriidae). First, we ask whether geographically distant populations share a common syndrome. Second, we test whether population differences in behaviour are correlated similarly to within-population trait correlations. Our results reveal that populations separated by as much as 36° latitude shared similar syndromes. Furthermore, population differences in behaviour were correlated in the same manner as within-population trait correlations. That is, population divergence tended to be along the same axes as within-population covariance. Together, these results suggest a lack of evolutionary independence in the syndrome’s constituent traits.