Macroevolutionary evidence suggests trait-dependent coevolution between behavior and life-history

Abstract

Species with fast life-histories typically prioritize current over future reproductive events, compared to species with slow life-histories. These species therefore require greater energetic input into reproduction, and also likely have less time to realize their reproductive potential. Hence, behaviors that increase access to both resources and mating opportunities, at a cost of increased mortality risk, could coevolve with the pace of life-history. However, whether this prediction holds across species, remains untested under standardized conditions. Here, we test how risky behaviors, which facilitate access to resources and mating opportunities (i.e., activity, boldness, and aggression), along with metabolic rate, coevolve with the pace of life-history across 20 species of killifish that present remarkable divergences in the pace of life-history. We found a positive association between the pace of life-history and aggression, but interestingly not with other behavioral traits or metabolic rate. Aggression is linked to interference competition, and in killifishes is often employed to secure mates, while activity and boldness are more relevant for exploiting energetic resources. Our results suggest that the trade-off between current and future reproduction plays a more prominent role in shaping mating behavior, while behaviors related to energy acquisition may be influenced by ecological factors.

Publication
In Evolution.
Wouter van der Bijl
Wouter van der Bijl
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

I study the evolution of complex traits, such as color patterns, brains and behavior. To that end, I use sequencing, quantative genetics, and large data approaches.