Predictors of Individual Variation in Movement in a Natural Population of Threespine Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus)

Kate L. Laskowski, Simon Pearish, Miles Bensky, Alison M. Bell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Species abundances and distributions are inherently tied to individuals' decisions about movement within their habitat. Therefore, integrating individual phenotypic variation within a larger ecological framework may provide better insight into how populations structure themselves. Recent evidence for consistent individual differences in behaviour prompts the hypothesis that variation in behavioural types might be related to variation in movement in natural environments. In a multiyear mark-recapture study, we found that individual sticklebacks exhibited consistent individual differences in behaviour both within a standardized testing arena designed to measure exploratory behaviour and within a river. Therefore, we asked whether individual differences in movement in a natural river were related to an individual's exploratory behavioural type. We also considered whether body condition and/or the individual's habitat or social environment use was related to movement. There was no evidence that an individual's exploratory behavioural type was related to movement within the river. Instead, an individual's habitat use and body condition interacted to influence natural movement patterns. Individuals in good condition were more likely to move further in the river, but only if they inhabited a vegetated complex part of the river; body condition had no influence on movement in those individuals inhabiting open areas of the river. Our results suggest that individual traits could help improve predictions about how populations may distribute themselves within patchy and complex environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Ecological Research
PublisherAcademic Press Inc.
Number of pages26
StatePublished - Dec 31 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Ecological Research
ISSN (Print)0065-2504


  • Behavioural type
  • Dispersal
  • Personality
  • Population consequences of behaviour
  • Sticklebacks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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