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Experimental evidence that adult antipredator behaviour is heritable and not influenced by behavioural copying in a wild bird.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences
Knowledge of the relative importance of genetics and behavioural copying is crucial to appraise the evolvability of behavioural consistencies. Yet, genetic and non-genetic factors are often deeply intertwined, and experiments are required to address this issue. We investigated the sources of variation of adult antipredator behaviour in the Alpine swift (Apus melba) by making use of long-term behavioural observations on parents and cross-fostered offspring. By applying an 'animal model' approach to observational data, we show that antipredator behaviour of adult Alpine swifts was significantly repeatable over lifetime (r = 0.273) and heritable (h(2) = 0.146). Regression models also show that antipredator behaviours differed between colonies and sexes (females were more tame), and varied with the hour and year of capture. By applying a parent-offspring regression approach to 59 offspring that were exchanged as eggs or hatchlings between pairs of nests, we demonstrate that offspring behaved like their biological parents rather than like their foster parents when they were adults themselves. Those findings provide strong evidence that antipredator behaviour of adult Alpine swifts is shaped by genetics and/or pre-hatching maternal effects taking place at conception but not by behavioural copying.
Tachymarptis melba, behavioural syndromes, cross-fostering experiment, personality, antipredator behaviour
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