Im sure most people reading this blog are at least somewhat familiar with our Scandinavian ninespines & their behavioural syndromes (if not, see references below). In brief, Herczeg et al. have demonstrated profound differences in the levels of aggression and boldness between ninespines coming from predation-free pond habitats and those from high-predation marine habitats. Though framed in a slightly different context (hatch time), Ruiz-Gomez & Huntingord (2012) recently showed contrasting levels of boldness in early vs. late-hatched threespines. Admittedly behavioural syndromes is uncharted territory for me, but I found their result of bolder early-hatchers interesting in light of the predation hypothesis (predation lowers aggression and boldness) – since stickleback predators are likely to arrive later in the season, it makes sense that the late-hatchers are less bold. Even though this aligns with Herczeg’s findings of bolder predator-free ninespines, the authors were quick to dismiss predation as an explanation for their own findings, owing to the fact that their stickles spent little time in the wild interacting with predators. Instead they suggest that the behavioural differences reflect a heritable fitness component – bold fish may grow better and breed earlier, hence having an advantage over the shy late-bloomers.
In any case, since Laine et al (2012) designed several new microsats to amplify genes associated with behavioural variation in ninespines, it might be interesting to explore the genetic patterns in their threespine homologs (from which the ninespine markers were developed)?
Ruiz-Gomez & Huntingford. 2012. Boldness and aggressiveness in early and late hatched three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Journal of Fish Biology doi: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2012.03340.x
Laine et al. 2012.Isolation and characterization of 13 new nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius, microsatellites located nearby candidate genes for behavioural variation. Annales Zoologici Fennici 49: 123-128
Herczeg & Välimäki. 2012. Intraspecific variation in behaviour: effects of evolutionary history, ontogenetic experience and sex. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 24: 2434-2444. doi:10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02371.x
Herczeg et al. 2009. Predation mediated population divergence in complex behaviour of ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius). Journal of Evolutionary Biology 22: 544–552. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2008.01674.x