2021-01-07Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/22790
Consistent Behavioral Syndrome Across Seasons in an Invasive Freshwater Fish
Understanding the linkage between behavioral types and dispersal tendency has become a pressing issue in light of global change and biological invasions. Here, we explore whether dispersing individuals exhibit behavioral types that differ from those remaining in the source population. We investigated a feral population of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) that undergoes a yearly range shift cycle. Guppies are among the most widespread invasive species in the world, but in temperate regions these tropical fish can only survive in winter-warm freshwaters. Established in a thermally-altered stream in Germany, guppies are confined to a warm-water influx in winter, but can spread to peripheral parts as these become thermally accessible. We sampled fish from the source population and a winter-abandoned site in March, June and August. Fish were tested for boldness, sociability and activity involving open-field tests including interactions with a robotic social partner. Guppies differed consistently among each other in all three traits within each sample. Average trait expression in the source population differed across seasons, however, we could not detect differences between source and downstream population. Instead, all populations exhibited a remarkably stable behavioral syndrome between boldness and activity despite strong seasonal changes in water temperature and associated environmental factors. We conclude that random drift (opposed to personality-biased dispersal) is a more likely dispersal mode for guppies, at least in the investigated stream. In the face of fluctuating environments, guppies seem to be extremely effective in keeping behavioral expressions constant, which could help explain their successful invasion and adaptation to new and disturbed habitats.
This article was supported by the Elsa-Neumann-Scholarship from the state of Berlin, the German Ichthyological Society and the German Research Foundation (DFG).