Personality-dependent dispersal in the invasive mosquitofish: group composition matters

Julien Cote, Sean Fogarty, Tomas Brodin, Kelly Weinersmith, Andrew Sih

Abstract

Understanding/predicting ecological invasions is an important challenge in modern ecology because of their immense economical and ecological costs. Recent studies have revealed that within-species variation in behaviour (i.e. animal personality) can shed light on the invasion process. The general hypothesis is that individuals' personality type may affect their colonization success, suggesting that some individuals might be better invaders than others. We have recently shown that, in the invasive mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis), social personality trait was an important indicator of dispersal distance, with more asocial individuals dispersing further. Here, we tested how mean personality within a population, in addition to individual personality type, affect dispersal and settlement decisions in the mosquitofish. We found that individual dispersal tendencies were influenced by the population's mean boldness and sociability score. For example, individuals from populations with more asocial individuals or with more bold individuals are more likely to disperse regardless of their own personality type. We suggest that identifying behavioural traits facilitating invasions, even at the group level, can thus have direct applications in pest management.

  • Received September 2, 2010.
  • Accepted October 18, 2010.
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