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Disentangling the roles of frequency-vs. state-dependence in generating individual differences in behavioural plasticity

Authors

  • Kimberley J. Mathot,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Eberhard Gwinner StraβEe 7, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
      E-mail: kmathot@orn.mpg.de
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  • Piet J. van den Hout,

    1. Department of Marine Ecology and Evolution, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
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  • Theunis Piersma,

    1. Department of Marine Ecology and Evolution, Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), PO Box 59, 1790 AB Den Burg, Texel, The Netherlands
    2. Animal Ecology Group, Centre for Ecology and Evolutionary Studies, University of Groningen, PO Box 11103, 9700 CC Groningen, The Netherlands
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  • Bart Kempenaers,

    1. Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Eberhard Gwinner StraβEe 7, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
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  • Denis Réale,

    1. Groupe de Recherche en Écologie Comportementale et Animale, Département des Sciences Biologiques, Université du Québec à Montréal, Case postale 8888, Succursale Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3P8, Canada
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  • Niels J. Dingemanse

    1. Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Eberhard Gwinner StraβEe 7, 82319 Seewiesen, Germany
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E-mail: kmathot@orn.mpg.de

Abstract

Ecology Letters (2011) 14: 1254–1262

Abstract

Theoretical work suggests that both negative frequency-dependent payoffs and state-dependent payoffs can lead to individual variation in behavioural plasticity. We investigated the roles of both frequency- and state-dependence on the occurrence of individual variation in behavioural plasticity in a series of experiments where we manipulated perceived predation danger for red knots (Calidris canutus islandica). We found individual variation in plasticity in a trait with negative frequency-dependent payoffs (vigilance), but not in a trait with positive frequency-dependent payoffs (escape flights). Furthermore, there was no correlation between the average level of vigilance under low predation danger and the magnitude of response to increased predation danger, as would be expected under state-dependence. Thus, our results provide support for the hypothesis that negative-frequency dependence favours individual variation in plasticity. However, negative-frequency dependence alone cannot explain why plasticity would be consistent within individuals, and future studies should address the factors that might favour individual consistency.

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