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Data from: Pervasive indirect genetic effects on behavioral development in polymorphic eastern mosquitofish

Cite this dataset

Kraft, Brittany; Lemakos, Valerie A.; Travis, Joseph; Hughes, Kimberly A. (2017). Data from: Pervasive indirect genetic effects on behavioral development in polymorphic eastern mosquitofish [Dataset]. Dryad.


The social environment can dramatically influence development and expression of individual behavior. Indirect genetic effects (IGE) arise when variation in the social environment depend on genotypic differences among social partners. Their role in generating variation and in influencing evolutionary dynamics has become increasingly recognized in recent years, but less attention has been paid to how indirect genetic effects arise during development. Here, we measure IGE during development using a discrete natural polymorphism in male coloration and associated behaviors in eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). The experiment revealed substantial IGE and direct genetic effects on behavior. For some behaviors, IGE changed and even reversed direction over the 16 weeks of the experiment, indicating important developmental dynamics. Interaction between IGE and direct genetic effects for some behaviors indicated that melanistic males were less responsive to a genetic change in their social environment than were non-melanistic males, suggesting that melanistic males were relatively inflexible in their behavior. Alternately, social partners might vary less in the behavior they direct toward these males. The color morphs differed in mating behavior and in the amount of aggressive behavior they received from their social partners, but not in direct measures of aggression. These results imply that even apparently innate differences between color morphs in behavior could arise as indirect effects of differences in behavior of social partners toward them. Deducing the developmental and social origins of these indirect effects is necessary to understand the maintenance of morphological and behavioral polymorphisms in the many species in which they occur.

Usage notes


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS-1257735


United States