Data from: Behaviour-related DRD4 polymorphisms in invasive bird populations
Mueller, Jakob C. et al. (2014), Data from: Behaviour-related DRD4 polymorphisms in invasive bird populations, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.589t0
It has been suggested that individual behavioural traits influence the potential to successfully colonize new areas. Identifying the genetic basis of behavioural variation in invasive species thus represents an important step towards understanding the evolutionary potential of the invader. Here, we sequenced a candidate region for neophilic/neophobic and activity behaviour – the complete exon 3 of the DRD4 gene – in 100 Yellow-crowned bishops (Euplectes afer) from two invasive populations in Spain and Portugal. The same birds were scored twice for activity behaviour while exposed to novel objects (battery or slice of apple) in captivity. Response to novel objects was repeatable (r = 0.41) within individuals. We identified two synonymous DRD4 SNPs that explained on average between 11% and 15% of the phenotypic variance in both populations, indicating a clear genetic component to the neophilic/neophobic/activity personality axis in this species. This consistently high estimated effect size was mainly due to the repeated measurement design, which excludes part of the within-individual nongenetic variance in the response to different novel objects. We suggest that the alternative alleles of these SNPs are likely introduced from the original population and maintained by weak or antagonistic selection during different stages of the invasion process. The identified genetic variants have not only the potential to serve as genetic markers of the neophobic/neophilic/activity personality axis, but may also help to understand the evolution of behaviour in these invasive bird populations.