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The effects of sociality and development on the heritability of behaviour in birds

Vries, S. G. de and Kingma, S. A. (2015) The effects of sociality and development on the heritability of behaviour in birds. Master's Thesis / Essay, Biology.

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Phenotypic variation is the result of both genetic and non-genetic effects on an individuals’ phenotype. The main transmission modes of information are genetic inheritance, epigenetic inheritance, parental effects, ecological inheritance and cultural inheritance or social learning. Especially, social learning is assumed to affect the heritability of behaviour by increasing the influence of the environment on phenotypes. In this comparative study the effects of social systems and development of young on the heritability of behavioural traits in birds are analysed. Heritability of behaviour is compared between solitary birds, colonial birds and cooperative breeders in order to analyse the effects of cultural inheritance on heritability estimates. There is no significant effect of social environment on the heritability of behaviour in birds. In addition, precocial and altricial bird species are compared. There is an effect of mode of development on heritability, whereby precocial birds show significantly lower heritabilities than altricial birds. Precocial young are physically further developed after hatching than altricial young and very early in life capable of observing and exploring their environment. Social learning and imprinting mechanisms therefore influence the effect of genetic inheritance on behaviour in birds. Ultimately, evolutionary potential of a bird species or population is not only shaped by mere genes, but also the result of non-genetic ways to transmit information to offspring and conspecifics.

Item Type: Thesis (Master's Thesis / Essay)
Degree programme: Biology
Thesis type: Master's Thesis / Essay
Language: English
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2018 08:10
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2018 08:10

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