The Royal Society

Supplementary material from "Mesocosm experiment reveals scale dependence of movement tendencies in sticklebacks"

Posted on 2023-03-17 - 08:26
Habitat fragmentation can have negative impacts on migratory organisms that rely on the functional connectivity between growing and breeding grounds. Quantifying the population-level phenotypic consequences of such fragmentation requires fine-scaled tracking of individual behaviour and movements across relevant scales. We here make use of a natural experiment where some populations of ‘migrant’ three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) became ‘residents', following habitat fragmentation five decades ago. To test whether residents have a lower movement tendency than migrants, we developed a novel experimental platform that allows the automated tracking of individual movements via RFID technology in a semi-natural mesocosm where spatio-temporal scales and environmental conditions can be manipulated. We found that residents moved significantly less than migrants at large but not at small spatial scale. This pattern was consistent across time and contexts (water flow and group size). Our study substantiates prior literature on rapid phenotypic divergence in sticklebacks in response to human-induced isolation and highlights the importance of observing behaviour in ecologically relevant set-ups that bridge the gap between laboratory and field studies.


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