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Quantitative genetics and fitness consequences of neophilia in zebra finches


  • Holger Schielzeth
  • Elisabeth Bolund
  • Bart Kempenaers
  • Wolfgang Forstmeier


Consistent between-individual differences in context-general behavioral traits (often called personality traits) are particularly interesting for behavioral ecologists because they might show unexpected cross-context correlations and explain maladaptive behavior. In order to understand their evolutionary significance, it is relevant to know the heritability of these traits and how they relate to reproductive success. This might give insights into selective processes that maintain variation as well as into potential trade-offs. We scored approach to novel objects of 530 captive zebra finches in a familiar environment. Scores were highly repeatable and showed substantial additive genetic variation. We measured reproductive success, promiscuity, and extrapair paternity rates under aviary conditions and calculated linear and nonlinear selection differentials based on fertilization success as well as effects on chick-rearing success of pairs. Approach to novel objects had little influence on these components of reproductive success. However, we found that the social environment (manipulated operational sex ratios) influenced the correlation between approach to a novel object and the proportion of extrapair paternity. We also found that the sex ratio manipulation affected measures of the intensity of sexual selection. Both effects were stronger in males than in females. We conclude that despite the lack of differences in overall reproductive success, approach to novel objects reflects variation in reproductive strategies. Copyright 2011, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Holger Schielzeth & Elisabeth Bolund & Bart Kempenaers & Wolfgang Forstmeier, 2011. "Quantitative genetics and fitness consequences of neophilia in zebra finches," Behavioral Ecology, International Society for Behavioral Ecology, vol. 22(1), pages 126-134.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:beheco:v:22:y:2011:i:1:p:126-134

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