Indirect effects of human-induced environmental change on offspring production mediated by behavioural responses

Indirect effects of human-induced environmental change on offspring production mediated by... Human-induced rapid environmental changes often cause behavioural alterations in animals. The consequences that these alterations in turn have for the viability of populations are, however, poorly known. We used a population of threespine sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus in the Baltic Sea to investigate the consequences of behavioural responses to human-induced eutrophication for offspring production. The investigated population has been growing during the last decades, and one cause could be increased offspring production. We combined field-based surveys with laboratory-based experiments, and found that an enhanced growth of macroalgae relaxed agonistic interactions among males. This allowed more males to nest, improved hatching success, and increased the number of reproductive cycles that males completed. Thus, the behavioural responses were adaptive at the individual level and increased offspring production. However, a larger proportion of small males of low competitive ability reproduced in dense vegetation. As male size and dominance are heritable, this could influence the genetic composition of the offspring. Together with a higher number of offspring produced, this could influence natural selection and the rate of adaptation to the changing environment. Thus, behavioural responses to a rapid human-induced environmental change can influence offspring production, with potential consequences for population dynamics and evolutionary processes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Oecologia Springer Journals

Indirect effects of human-induced environmental change on offspring production mediated by behavioural responses

Oecologia, Volume 174 (1) – Aug 31, 2013

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2013 by Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Subject
Life Sciences; Ecology; Plant Sciences
ISSN
0029-8549
eISSN
1432-1939
D.O.I.
10.1007/s00442-013-2752-2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Human-induced rapid environmental changes often cause behavioural alterations in animals. The consequences that these alterations in turn have for the viability of populations are, however, poorly known. We used a population of threespine sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus in the Baltic Sea to investigate the consequences of behavioural responses to human-induced eutrophication for offspring production. The investigated population has been growing during the last decades, and one cause could be increased offspring production. We combined field-based surveys with laboratory-based experiments, and found that an enhanced growth of macroalgae relaxed agonistic interactions among males. This allowed more males to nest, improved hatching success, and increased the number of reproductive cycles that males completed. Thus, the behavioural responses were adaptive at the individual level and increased offspring production. However, a larger proportion of small males of low competitive ability reproduced in dense vegetation. As male size and dominance are heritable, this could influence the genetic composition of the offspring. Together with a higher number of offspring produced, this could influence natural selection and the rate of adaptation to the changing environment. Thus, behavioural responses to a rapid human-induced environmental change can influence offspring production, with potential consequences for population dynamics and evolutionary processes.

Journal

OecologiaSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 31, 2013

References

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