Behavioural measures determine survivorship within the hierarchy of whole-organism phenotypic traits

McCormick, Mark I., Fakan, Eric, and Allan, Bridie J.M. (2018) Behavioural measures determine survivorship within the hierarchy of whole-organism phenotypic traits. Functional Ecology, 32 (4). pp. 958-969.

[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

View at Publisher Website:


Mortality through predation is often selective, particularly at life-history bottlenecks. While many studies have looked at the importance for survival of specific prey characteristics in isolation, few have looked at a broad array of attributes and how they relate to survival in a realistic context.

Our study measures 18 morphological, performance and behavioural traits of a juvenile damselfish that have been hypothesized as important for prey survival, and examines how they relate to survival in the field immediately after settlement. These attributes included size, relative false eye-spot size, fast-start escape response kinematics, thigmotaxis, laterality, and space use and activity in the field.

Using conditional inference trees, we identify the most important drivers out of a reduced suite of 13 characters. Fast-start response latency, boldness, feeding rates and two measures of activity were found to significantly contribute to survival. Morphological variables and most laboratory measures of performance appeared to contribute little to survival.

Results suggest selection works on a suite of characters associated with boldness. Bold and active fish are those that will be best able to learn using public information, but because of the relative naivete of newly metamorphosed fishes, speed to react to a strike from an unknown predator is of critical importance.

Findings substantiate the ecomorphological paradigm by suggesting that selection on behaviour modifies the correlations of morphological and performance variables with survival probabilities, since behaviour modifies performance capabilities by making them specific to context.

Item ID: 53532
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-2435
Keywords: body condition, boldness, coral reef fish, fast-start escape response, lateralization performance, mortality, phenotypic selection, predator selectivity
Copyright Information: © 2017 The Authors. Functional Ecology. © 2017 British Ecological Society.
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 09 May 2018 07:49
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour @ 50%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310302 Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page