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Data from: Developmental and genetic effects on behavioral and life-history traits in a field cricket

Cite this dataset

Wey, Tina W.; Réale, Denis; Kelly, Clint D. (2020). Data from: Developmental and genetic effects on behavioral and life-history traits in a field cricket [Dataset]. Dryad.


A fundamental goal of evolutionary ecology is to identify the sources underlying trait variation on which selection can act. Phenotypic variation will be determined by both genetic and environmental factors, and adaptive phenotypic plasticity is expected when organisms can adjust their phenotypes to match environmental cues. Much recent research interest has focused on the relative importance of environmental and genetic factors on the expression of behavioral traits, in particular, and how they compare with morphological and life-history traits. Little research to date examines the effect of development on the expression of heritable variation in behavioral traits, such as boldness and activity. We tested for genotype, environment, and genotype-by-environment differences in body mass, development time, boldness, and activity, using developmental density treatments combined with a quantitative genetic design in the sand field cricket (Gryllus firmus). Similar to results from previous work, animals reared at high densities were generally smaller and took longer to mature, and body mass and development time were moderately heritable. In contrast, neither boldness nor activity responded to density treatments, and they were not heritable. The only trait that showed significant genotype-by-environment differences was development time. It is possible that adaptive behavioral plasticity is not evident in this species because of the highly variable social environments it naturally experiences. Our results illustrate the importance of validating the assumption that behavioral phenotype reflects genetic patterns and suggest questions about the role of environmental instability in trait variation and heritability.

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