Gene flow does not prevent personality and morphological differentiation between two blue tit populations

G. Dubuc-Messier (Corresponding author), S.P. Caro, C. Perrier, K. van Oers, D. Réale, A. Charmantier

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Understanding the causes and consequences of population phenotypic divergence is a central goal in ecology and evolution. Phenotypic divergence among populations can result from genetic divergence, phenotypic plasticity or a combination of the two. However, few studies have deciphered these mechanisms for populations geographically close and connected by gene flow, especially in the case of personality traits. In this study, we used a common garden experiment to explore the genetic basis of the phenotypic divergence observed between two blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) populations inhabiting contrasting habitats separated by 25 km, for two personality traits (exploration speed and handling aggression), one physiological trait (heart rate during restraint) and two morphological traits (tarsus length and body mass). Blue tit nestlings were removed from their population and raised in a common garden for up to five years. We then compared adult phenotypes between the two populations, as well as trait‐specific Qst and Fst. Our results revealed differences between populations similar to those found in the wild, suggesting a genetic divergence for all traits. Qst ‐ Fst comparisons revealed that the traits divergences likely result from dissimilar selection patterns rather than from genetic drift. Our study is one of the first to report a Qst ‐ Fst comparison for personality traits and adds to the growing body of evidence that population genetic divergence is possible at a small scale for a variety of traits including behavioural traits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1137
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Issue number8
Early online date23 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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