Skip to main content

Data for: DRD4 allele frequencies in greylag geese vary between urban and rural sites

Cite this dataset

Mai, Sabrina; Wittor, Caroline; Merker, Stefan; Woog, Friederike (2022). Data for: DRD4 allele frequencies in greylag geese vary between urban and rural sites [Dataset]. Dryad.


With the increasing urbanisation of the last decades, more and more bird species occur in urban habitats. Birds which thrive in urban habitats often have a higher tolerance towards human disturbance and show behaviours which differ from their rural counterparts. There is increasing evidence that many behaviours have a genetic basis. One candidate gene is the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4), which has been associated with fear and thus, flight initiation distance (FID). In this study, we analysed a segment of DRD4 in greylag geese Anser anser, describing the variability of this gene across several geographically distant populations, and comparing its variability between an urban and a rural site in south-west Germany. We additionally measured FIDs of urban and rural geese to test for a possible correlation with DRD4 genotypes. We found a high variation of DRD4, with 10 variable sites leading to 11 alleles and 35 genotypes. Two genotypes occurred in 60% of all geese and were thus defined as common genotypes versus 33 rare genotypes. Population differentiation was very low between the urban and rural sites in Germany but common genotypes occurred more often in the urban area and rare genotypes more often in the rural area. FID was significantly higher at the rural site, but no significant correlation between FID and DRD4 genotypes could be detected. Nevertheless, our results suggest that local site selection may be related to DRD4 genotypes.


To get an initial idea of the variation of the DRD4 gene in greylag geese, we analysed samples from authochthonous breeding populations in Iceland, Norway, Denmark and Greece. Samples from these authochthonous geese were chosen from the collection of the State Museum of Natural History Stuttgart (accession numbers can be found in the Sample Information file). We additionally used samples from greylag geese living in Stuttgart, south-west Germany. These samples have been collected during yearly catches of geese and also stored in the museum's collection.

We sequenced exon3 of the DRD4 gene in our selected samples and determined the genotype for each (for a detailed methodology, please see the publication in Ecology and Evolution). The Data Files S1 to S7 can be used as input files for the R script also uploaded here. They contain the data used for several chi-square tests, an ANOVA as well as a linear mixed model. The script was written in R Studio.


Ministerium für Ernährung, Ländlichen Raum und Verbraucherschutz Baden-Württemberg, Award: AZ 31-0826.54774