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Data from: Repeatable and heritable behavioural variation in a wild cooperative breeder

Cite this dataset

Edwards, Hannah A.; Burke, Terry; Dugdale, Hannah L. (2017). Data from: Repeatable and heritable behavioural variation in a wild cooperative breeder [Dataset]. Dryad.


Quantifying consistent differences in behaviour among individuals is vital to understanding the ecological and evolutionary significance of animal personality. To quantify personality, the phenotypic variation of a behavioural trait is partitioned to assess how it varies among individuals, which is also known as repeatability. If pedigree data are available, the phenotypic variation can then be further partitioned to estimate the additive genetic variance and heritability. Assessing the repeatability and heritability of personality traits therefore allows for a better understanding of what natural selection can act upon, enabling evolution. In a natural population of facultative cooperatively breeding Seychelles warbler (Acrocephalus sechellensis) on Cousin Island, a lack of breeding vacancies forces individuals into different life-history strategies, and these differences in reproductive state could generate behavioural differences among individuals in the population. We used this population to estimate the repeatability of 4 behavioural traits (novel environment exploration, novel object exploration, obstinacy/struggle rate, and escape response), and narrow-sense heritability (of behavior, h2B; behavior minus observer variance; and personality), and evolvability, of the repeatable behavioural traits. We also tested for an among-individual correlation between the repeatable traits. We found that, compared to estimates in other study species, the exploratory behaviours were moderately repeatable (0.23–0.37), there was a positive among-individual correlation (0.51) between novel environment and novel object exploration, and that novel environment exploration was moderately heritable (0.17; h2B was low as it includes observer variance). This study further clarifies the additive genetic variance available for selection to act upon in this cooperatively breeding bird.

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