New publication: Rapid changes in genetic architecture of behavioural syndromes following colonization of a novel environment

K. Karlsson Green, F. Eroukhmanoff, S. Harris, L. B. Pettersson and E. I. Svensson in Journal of Evolutionary Biology


Behavioural syndromes, that is correlated behaviours, may be a result from adaptive correlational selection, but in a new environmental setting, the trait correlation might act as an evolutionary constraint. However, knowledge about the quantitative genetic basis of behavioural syndromes, and the stability and evolvability of genetic correlations under different ecological conditions, is limited. We investigated the quantitative genetic basis of correlated behaviours in the freshwater isopod Asellus aquaticus. In some Swedish lakes, A. aquaticus has recently colonized a novel habitat and diverged into two ecotypes, presumably due to habitat-specific selection from predation. Using a common garden approach and animal model analyses, we estimated quantitative genetic parameters for behavioural traits and compared the genetic architecture between the ecotypes. We report that the genetic covariance structure of the behavioural traits has been altered in the novel ecotype, demonstrating divergence in behavioural correlations. Thus, our study confirms that genetic correlations behind behaviours can change rapidly in response to novel selective environments.

Article first published online: 25 October 2015.
Volume 29, Issue 1, pages 144–152, January 2016

Tags: Journal of Evolutionary Biology;
Published Mar. 15, 2016 4:18 PM - Last modified Mar. 15, 2016 4:18 PM