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Anim Behav. 2000 May;59(5):929-941.

Behaviour plasticity without learning: phenotypic and genetic variation of naïve Daphnia in an ecological trade-off.

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Department of Biology, McGill University


The swimming behaviour of adult Daphnia largely governs their depth, which has a direct effect on both individual foraging success and predation avoidance. We treated individual swimming behaviour as a threshold character and used directional changes in average clonal depth within experimental tubes as a test for character plasticity. We compared the swimming behaviours of two cohabiting, phenotypically similar Daphnia (Daphnia galeata and Daphnia galeata-Daphnia rosea hybrid) to determine (1) whether there is inherited variation (H(2)) for different traits (responses to hunger and predator cues); (2) whether changes in genetic parameters (norm of reaction and character state) across four environments could be simulated by combinations of the presence or absence of a predator cue and high or low hunger levels; and (3) whether these Daphnia would respond to directional selection, particularly in a trade-off environment (high hunger and predator cue treatments). Responses of both D. galeata and the D. galeata-rosea hybrid to hunger and a predator cue and the trade-off environment were plastic. Daphnia galeata expressed significant genetic variation within (H(2)) and between environments (heritability of plasticity). Both the character state and norm of reaction estimates of heritable variation in the hybrid were close to zero. Genetic correlations were positive and stable across six environmental pairs in Daphnia galeata. Most hybrid genetic correlations were not significant. The phenotypic distributions of both D. galeata and the hybrid were bimodal in the trade-off environment. The D. galeata distribution was partly due to between-clone variation and the hybrid distribution was almost entirely due to within-clone variation. Genetic variation expressed by D. galeata in the trade-off environment appears to depend on both clone by environment interactions and stable inherited differences. These results indicate that while plastic phenotypic responses cause a similar opportunity for selection in D. galeata and the hybrid, their responses to selection would be different in the trade-off and in related environments. Copyright 2000 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.

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