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Keywords:

  • behavioural syndrome;
  • correlational selection;
  • linkage disequilibrium;
  • selection analysis

Abstract

Correlated suites of behaviours, or behavioural syndromes, appear to be widespread, and yet few studies have explored how they arise and are maintained. One possibility holds that correlational selection can generate and maintain behavioural syndrome if certain behavioural combinations enjoy greater fitness than other combinations. Here we test this correlational selection hypothesis by comparing behavioural syndrome structure with a multivariate fitness surface based on reproductive success of male water striders. We measured the structure of a behavioural syndrome including dispersal ability, exploration behaviour, latency to remount and sex recognition sensitivity in males. We then measured the relationship between these behaviours and mating success in a range of sex ratio environments. Despite the presence of some significant correlational selection, behavioural syndrome structure was not associated with correlational selection on behaviours. Although we cannot conclusively reject the correlational selection hypothesis, our evidence suggests that correlational selection and resulting linkage disequilibrium might not be responsible for maintaining the strong correlations between behaviours. Instead, we suggest alternative ways in which this behavioural syndrome may have arisen and outline the need for physiological and quantitative genetic tests of these suggestions.