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Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation


Kasper, Claudia; Kölliker, Mathias; Postma, Erik; Taborsky, Barbara (2017). Consistent cooperation in a cichlid fish is caused by maternal and developmental effects rather than heritable genetic variation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, (284):20170369.

Abstract

Studies on the evolution of cooperative behaviour are typically confined to understanding its adaptive value. It is equally essential, however, to understand its potential to evolve, requiring knowledge about the phenotypic consistency and genetic basis of cooperative behaviour. While previous observational studies reported considerably high heritabilities of helping behaviour in cooperatively breeding vertebrates, experimental studies disentangling the relevant genetic and non-genetic components of cooperative behaviour are lacking. In a half-sibling breeding experiment, we investigated the repeatability and heritability of three major helping behaviours performed by subordinates of the cooperatively breeding fish Neolamprologus pulcher. To experimentally manipulate the amount of help needed in a territory, we raised the fish in two environments differing in egg predation risk. All three helping behaviours were significantly repeatable, but had very low heritabilities. The high within-individual consistencies were predominantly due to maternal and permanent environment effects. The perceived egg predation risk had no effect on helping, but social interactions significantly influenced helping propensities. Our results reveal that developmentally plastic adjustments of provided help to social context shape cooperative phenotypes, whereas heritable genetic variation plays a minor role.

Abstract

Studies on the evolution of cooperative behaviour are typically confined to understanding its adaptive value. It is equally essential, however, to understand its potential to evolve, requiring knowledge about the phenotypic consistency and genetic basis of cooperative behaviour. While previous observational studies reported considerably high heritabilities of helping behaviour in cooperatively breeding vertebrates, experimental studies disentangling the relevant genetic and non-genetic components of cooperative behaviour are lacking. In a half-sibling breeding experiment, we investigated the repeatability and heritability of three major helping behaviours performed by subordinates of the cooperatively breeding fish Neolamprologus pulcher. To experimentally manipulate the amount of help needed in a territory, we raised the fish in two environments differing in egg predation risk. All three helping behaviours were significantly repeatable, but had very low heritabilities. The high within-individual consistencies were predominantly due to maternal and permanent environment effects. The perceived egg predation risk had no effect on helping, but social interactions significantly influenced helping propensities. Our results reveal that developmentally plastic adjustments of provided help to social context shape cooperative phenotypes, whereas heritable genetic variation plays a minor role.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2017
Deposited On:18 Jan 2018 13:44
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 10:22
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.0369

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