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STUDENTS AND POST-DOCS

BRANTA — Anne Charmantier


Environmental heterogeneity in the Mediterranean region and the evolution of fitness: extra-pair paternity and heritability of morphometric traits in the Blue Tit

 
Institution: Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionelle et Evolutive, Montpellier, France
Supervisors: M Lambrechts
Details: PhD 2003 (Completed)

Address: Edward Grey Institute, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, U.K. (Oct 2005) Email

Subject Keywords: environmental heterogeneity, extra-pair paternity, breeding density, heritability, natural selection, sexual selection, morphometric traits
Species Keywords: Blue Tit Parus caeruleus Cyanistes caeruleus

 

Abstract

Populations and species are exposed to extinction unless they continuously adapt to the constantly heterogeneous and changing environment. Combining knowledge on selection pressures (in natural and sexual selection) and genetic determinism of traits allows the estimation of evolutionary potential and predictions on evolution.
 
Within this theoretical framework, this study investigates the causes and consequences of the great phenotypic variability of Blue Tits Parus caeruleus in Mediterranean mosaic habitats. It deals with two separate components of genetic variation, which in fact are complementary.

The first part of this study deals with genetic polygyny in this socially monogamous species. We have tested the genetic benefits which, in relation to environmental variation, might explain the choice of an extra-pair partner in the process of sexual selection. Correlative and experimental approaches investigated factors determining the extra-pair paternity rate. Different hypotheses explaining this behaviour are discussed.
 
Subsequently, we have investigated the environmental effects on the quantitative genetics of morphometric traits in the same species. Heritability was estimated using powerful statistical methods recently applied to natural populations. Additive genetic variance and other components of total phenotypic variance were then compared between three populations of different habitat quality. Finally, an experimental manipulation of nest ectoparasites provided the first evidence for a potential constraint of parasitism on evolutionary response to selection in host morphometric traits.

 

Published Papers

Charmantier, A., Blondel, J., Perret, P. & Lambrechts M.M. 2004. Do extra-pair paternities provide genetic benefits for female blue tits (Parus caeruleus)? Journal of Avian Biology 35: 524-532.
Charmantier, A. & Perret, P. 2004. Manipulation of nest-box density affects extra-pair paternity in a population of blue tits (Parus caeruleus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 56: 360-365.
Charmantier, A., Kruuk, L.E.B. & Lambrechts M.M. 2004. Parasitism reduces the potential for evolution in a wild bird population. Evolution 58: 203-206.
Charmantier, A., Kruuk, L.E.B., Blondel, J. & Lambrechts M.M. 2004. Testing for microevolution in body size in three blue tit populations. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 17: 732-743.
Lambrechts, M.M., Caro, S., Charmantier, A., Gross, N., Galan, M.J., Perret, P., Cartan_Son, M., Dias, P.C., Blondel, J. & Thomas, D.W. 2004. Habitat quality as a predictor of spatial variation in blue tit reproductive performance: a multi-plot analysis in a heterogeneous landscape. Oecologia 141: 555-561.
Charmantier, A. & Blondel, J. 2003. A contrast in extra-pair paternity levels on mainland and island populations of Mediterranean blue tits. Ethology 109: 351-364.

 
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