University of Oulu

Morinay J, Forsman JT, Kivelä SM, Gustafsson L and Doligez B (2018) Heterospecific Nest Site Copying Behavior in a Wild Bird: Assessing the Influence of Genetics and Past Experience on a Joint Breeding Phenotype. Front. Ecol. Evol. 5:167. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00167

Heterospecific nest site copying behavior in a wild bird : assessing the influence of genetics and past experience on a joint breeding phenotype

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Author: Morinay, Jennifer1,2; Forsman, Jukka T.3; Kivelä, Sami M.3,4;
Organizations: 1Laboratoire de Biométrie et Biologie Evolutive, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique UMR 5558, University of Lyon-Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1
2Department of Ecology and Evolution, Animal Ecology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University
3Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu
4Department of Zoology, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-10-26


Breeding site selection is often a joint decision of pair members in species with biparental care and the experience of both pair members may influence the use of information for site selection. Nevertheless, quantitative genetics of joint information use for site selection remains unexplored so far. We used an experimental approach to quantify the relative importance of genetics (heritability) and past experience (age, familiarity with the environment, previous breeding success, previous information use) in heterospecific social information use for nest site selection in wild collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis). Flycatchers collect social information from resident tits for nest site selection. We created an apparent preference of tits for a novel nest site feature and recorded choices of flycatchers (copying or rejecting the tit preference). Copying behavior was stronger for naive individuals but also differed between years, which could be explained by contrasting seasonality in the demonstrator species. Past experience as reflected by age affected subsequent use of social information: pairs with a yearling male were more likely to copy the heterospecific preference than pairs with older immigrant males. There was no general pattern in successive individual choices over the years. Accordingly, individual repeatability in copying tit preference was very low. At the pair level, we estimated sex-specific direct and indirect genetic effects on the joint nest site decision and found no sex-specific heritability and no cross-sex genetic correlation. Our results confirm the importance of past experience for social information use and suggest that social information use is highly plastic and most likely not genetically inherited in collared flycatchers. Whether individuals use social information should be related to environmentally-induced changes in the quality of information and thus be context-dependent. Selection may therefore act on the ability to optimally use social information in varying environments and on the processes underlying such adjustment, such as learning, rather than the use of information itself.

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Series: Frontiers in ecology and evolution
ISSN: 2296-701X
ISSN-E: 2296-701X
ISSN-L: 2296-701X
Volume: 5
Article number: 167
DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00167
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology
Funding: This work was funded by the Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche (Ph.D. grant to JM), the Région Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (Explora'doc mobility grants), Uppsala Universitet (Stiftelsen research grant), the Kone Foundation (JF), the Emil Aaltonen Foundation (SK), the Estonian Research Council (grant PUT1474 to SK), the Swedish Research Council (LG), and the Centre National pour la Recherche Scientifique (PICS to BD).
Dataset Reference: Supplementary material:
Copyright information: © 2018 Morinay, Forsman, Kivelä, Gustafsson and Doligez. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.