Alastair J Wilson

Alastair J Wilson
University of Exeter | UoE · Department of Biosciences

PhD

About

177
Publications
31,214
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8,528
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2005 - December 2012
The University of Edinburgh
January 2005 - December 2006
University of Guelph

Publications

Publications (177)
Article
Full-text available
Cognition is vital for carrying out behaviours required for survival and reproduction. Cognitive performance varies between species, but also between individuals within populations. While variation is a prerequisite for natural selection, selection does not act on traits in isolation. The extent to which cognitive traits covary with other aspects o...
Article
Full-text available
Life‐history strategies differ with respect to investment in current versus ‘future’ reproduction, but when is this future? Under the novel ‘temporality in reproductive investment hypothesis’, we postulate variation should exist in the time frame over which reproductive costs are paid. Slow‐paced individuals should pay reproductive costs over short...
Article
Early decision making in commercial livestock systems is key to maximising animal welfare and production. Detailed information on an animal’s phenotype is needed to facilitate this, but can be difficult to obtain in a commercial setting. Research into the use of bio-logging on sheep to continuously monitor individual behaviour and indirectly inform...
Article
Full-text available
The vertebrate stress response comprises a suite of behavioural and physiological traits that must be functionally integrated to ensure organisms cope adaptively with acute stressors. Natural selection should favour functional integration, leading to a prediction of genetic integration of these traits. Despite the implications of such genetic integ...
Preprint
Cognitive variation is common among-individuals within populations, and this variation can be consistent across time and context. From an evolutionary perspective, among-individual variation is important and required for natural selection. Selection has been hypothesised to favour high cognitive performance, however directional selection would be e...
Article
Full-text available
While it is universally recognised that environmental factors can cause phenotypic trait variation via phenotypic plasticity, the extent to which causal processes operate in the reverse direction has received less consideration. In fact individuals are often active agents in determining the environments, and hence the selective regimes, they experi...
Article
Full-text available
Theory shows how sexual selection can exaggerate male traits beyond naturally selected optima and also how natural selection can ultimately halt trait elaboration. Empirical evidence supports this theory, but to our knowledge, there have been no experimental evolution studies directly testing this logic, and little examination of possible associate...
Article
Full-text available
Parallel evolution, in which independent populations evolve along similar phenotypic trajectories, offers insights into the repeatability of adaptive evolution. Here, we revisit a classic example of parallelism, that of repeated evolution of brighter males in the Trinidadian guppy (Poecilia reticulata). In guppies, colonisation of low predation hab...
Article
Within host populations, individuals can vary in their susceptibility to infections and in the severity and progression of disease once infected. Though mediated through differences in behaviour, resistance or tolerance, variation in disease outcomes ultimately stems from genetic and environmental (including social) factors. Despite obvious implica...
Preprint
Full-text available
Detecting microevolutionary responses to natural selection by observing temporal changes in individual breeding values is challenging. The collection of suitable datasets can take many years and disentangling the contributions of the environment and genetics to phenotypic change is not trivial. Furthermore, pedigree-based methods of obtaining indiv...
Preprint
Parallel evolution, in which independent populations evolve along similar phenotypic trajectories, offers insights into the repeatability of adaptive evolution. Here, we revisit a classic example of parallelism, that of repeated evolution of brighter males in the Trinidadian guppy. In guppies, colonisation of low predation habitats is associated wi...
Article
Full-text available
Studies of microbiome variation in wildlife often emphasize host physiology and diet as proximate selective pressures acting on host‐associated microbiota. In contrast, microbial dispersal and ecological drift are more rarely considered. Using amplicon sequencing, we characterized the bacterial microbiome of adult female (n = 86) Sable Island horse...
Article
Full-text available
The virulence‐transmission trade‐off hypothesis has provided a dominant theoretical basis for predicting pathogen virulence evolution, but empirical tests are rare, particularly at pathogen emergence. The central prediction of this hypothesis is that pathogen fitness is maximized at intermediate virulence due to a trade‐off between infection durati...
Preprint
Full-text available
Theory shows how sexual selection can exaggerate male traits beyond naturally selected optima and also how natural selection can ultimately halt trait elaboration. Empirical evidence supports this theory, but to date, there have been no experimental evolution studies directly testing this logic, and little examination of possible associated effects...
Preprint
Full-text available
Among-individual variation in cognitive performance has been recently demonstrated across a range of animal taxa. While this variation is a prerequisite for contemporary natural selection, it is also true that selection does not act on traits in isolation. Thus, the extent to which cognitive traits covary with other aspects of phenotype (e.g. perso...
Article
Full-text available
To understand the evolution of cognitive abilities, we need to understand both how selection acts upon them and their genetic (co)variance structure. Recent work suggests that there are fitness consequences for free-living individuals with particular cognitive abilities. However, our current understanding of the heritability of these abilities is r...
Article
In heterogeneous environments, mobile species should occupy habitats in which their fitness is maximized. Mangrove rivulus fish inhabit mangrove ecosystems where salinities range from 0-65 ppt but are most often collected at ∼25 ppt. We examined rivulus' salinity preference in a lateral salinity gradient, in the absence of predators and competitors...
Article
Genetic factors underpinning phenotypic variation are required if natural selection is to result in adaptive evolution. However, evolutionary and behavioural ecologists typically focus on variation among individuals in their average trait values, and seek to characterise genetic contributions to this. As a result, less attention has been paid to if...
Article
Full-text available
Wild quantitative genetic studies have focused on a subset of traits (largely morphological and life history), with others, such as behaviors, receiving much less attention. This is because it is challenging to obtain sufficient data, particularly for behaviors involving interactions between individuals. Here, we explore an indirect approach for pi...
Preprint
Full-text available
The vertebrate stress response comprises a suite of behavioural and physiological traits that must be functionally integrated to ensure organisms cope adaptively with acute stressors. The expectation that natural selection has favoured functional integration leads to a prediction of genetic integration: genetic variation in the stress response shou...
Article
Full-text available
Inter-individual variation in juvenile body size can have important consequences for individual fitness, population dynamics, and adaptive evolution. In wild vertebrate populations, larger juvenile size is usually expected to be selected for. However, understanding how such selection may translate into adaptive evolution requires an understanding o...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding how hosts minimize the cost of emerging infections has fundamental implications for epidemiological dynamics and the evolution of pathogen virulence. Despite this, few experimental studies in natural populations have tested whether, in response to disease emergence, hosts evolve resistance, which reduces pathogen load through immune a...
Article
Despite serving the primary objective of ensuring that at least one sperm cell reaches and fertilizes an ovum, the male ejaculate (i.e. spermatozoa and seminal fluid) is a compositionally complex ‘trait’ that can respond phenotypically to subtle changes in conditions. In particular, recent research has shown that environmentally and genetically ind...
Article
Full-text available
Variability in host resistance or tolerance to parasites is nearly ubiquitous, and is of key significance in understanding the evolutionary processes shaping host-parasite interactions. While ample research has been conducted on the genetics of parasite burden in livestock, relatively little has been done in free-living populations. Here, we invest...
Article
Organisms can affect one another's phenotypes when they socially interact. Indirect genetic effects occur when an individual's phenotype is affected by genes expressed in another individual. These heritable effects can enhance or reduce adaptive potential, thereby accelerating or reversing evolutionary change. Quantifying these social effects is th...
Chapter
This chapter focuses on a related but less widely recognized phenomenon, indirect genetic effects (IGEs), that also blurs the traditional distinction between genetic and environmental effects. It focuses primarily on IGEs affecting the expression of behavioural traits and provides a discussion on IGEs arising from interactions among unrelated indiv...
Chapter
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This chapter focuses on reasoning from the ultimate, evolutionary perspectives and not much more regarding proximate hypothesizing about behaviour. The main motivation is to highlight that using quantitative genetic approaches facilitates our ability to specify precise hypotheses about how behaviour is likely to evolve within populations over the s...
Article
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Figure 3 legend has been corrected to state: “Difference matrices for pairwise-trait phenotypic correlations (rP, below diagonal) and pairwise-trait genetic correlations (rG, above diagonal) from 1, 15, and 100 DPH. Differences are color coded by strength and direction. Differences shown in gray are positive and differences shown in black are negat...
Article
Full-text available
Social interactions can give rise to indirect genetic effects (IGEs), which occur when genes expressed in one individual affect the phenotype of another individual. The evolutionary dynamics of traits can be altered when there are IGEs. Sex often involves indirect effects arising from first‐order (current) or second‐order (prior) social interaction...
Preprint
Full-text available
Understanding how hosts minimise the cost of emerging infections has fundamental implications for epidemiological dynamics and the evolution of pathogen virulence. Despite this, few experimental studies conducted in natural populations have explicitly tested whether hosts evolve resistance, which prevents infections or reduces pathogen load through...
Article
Full-text available
Movement of individuals, or their genes, can influence eco-evolutionary processes in structured populations. We have limited understanding of the extent to which spatial behavior varies among groups and individuals within populations. Here, we use genetic pedigree reconstruction in a long-term study of European badgers (Meles meles) to characterize...
Article
We have demonstrated that genetic (co)variance structures among performance-related morphological traits are age dependent. This multivariate G x A can be conceptualized in two alternative ways: as shifting patterns of evolutionary constraint for responses to selection on age-specific morphology; or as the presence of genetic variance in the multiv...
Article
Full-text available
The vertebrate stress response enables individuals to react to and cope with environmental challenges. A crucial aspect of the stress response is the elevation of circulating glucocorticoids. However, continued activation of the stress response under repeated exposure to stressors can be damaging to fitness. Under certain circumstances it may there...
Article
Natural selection can act on between-individual variation in cognitive abilities, yet evolutionary responses depend on the presence of underlying genetic variation. It is, therefore, crucial to determine the relative extent of genetic versus environmental control of these among-individual differences in cognitive traits to understand their causes a...
Article
Full-text available
Keywords: background matching behavioural background matching camouflage colour change fish Camouflage can be achieved by both morphological (e.g. colour, brightness and pattern change) and behavioural (e.g. substrate preference) means. Much of the research on behavioural background matching has been conducted on species with fixed coloration and b...
Article
Full-text available
Changes in feeding behaviour, especially the overconsumption of calories, has led to a rise in the rates of obesity, diabetes, and other associated disorders in humans and a range of animals inhabiting human-influenced environments. However, understanding the relative contribution of genes, the nutritional environment, and their interaction to diet...
Preprint
Full-text available
The vertebrate stress response enables individuals to react to and cope with environmental challenges. A crucial aspect of the stress response is the elevation of circulating glucocorticoids. However, continued activation of the stress response under repeated (or chronic) stress can be damaging to fitness. Under certain circumstances it may therefo...
Article
Animal 'personality', the phenomenon of consistent individual differences in behaviour within populations , has been documented widely, yet its functional significance and the reasons for its persistence remain unclear. One possibility is that among-individual behavioural variation is linked to fitness-determining traits via effects on resource acq...
Preprint
Full-text available
Organisms can affect one another's phenotypes when they socially interact. Indirect genetic effects occur when an individual's phenotype is affected by genes expressed in another individual. These heritable effects can enhance or reduce adaptive potential, thereby accelerating or reversing evolutionary change. Quantifying these social effects is th...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual dimorphism in behaviour and personality has been identified in a number of species, but few studies have assessed the extent of shared genetic architecture across the sexes. Under sexually antagonistic selection, mechanisms are expected to evolve that reduce evolutionary conflict, resulting in genotype-by-sex (GxS) interactions. Here we asse...
Article
Full-text available
We found that both additive genetic and maternal effects are important determinants of risk-taking behaviour traits in guppies, although the former are only evident in adult fish. Not accounting for the maternal effects resulted in much higher h2 estimates in some cases raising the possibility that current estimates for personality traits are upwar...
Article
Establishing links between morphology and performance is important for understanding the functional, ecological, and evolutionary implications of morphological diversity. Relationships between morphology and performance are expected to be age dependent if, at different points during ontogeny, animals must perform in different capacities to achieve...
Article
Full-text available
Individual repeatability (R), defined as the proportion of observed variance attributable to among-individual differences, is a widely used summary statistic in evolutionarily motivated studies of morphology, life history, physiology and, especially, behaviour. Although statistical methods to estimate R are well known and widely available, there is...
Data
Table S1. Estimated coefficients from univariate animal models of each trait. Table S2. Estimates among‐individual (ID) matrices for males (IDM) and females (IDF) separately. Figure S1. Observed size (A ‐ standard length, B ‐ live mass) and relative growth (C,D) by age for female (red), male (green) and fish of unknown sex (blue).
Article
Full-text available
Behavioural ecology research increasingly focuses on why genetic behavioural variation can persist despite selection. Evolutionary theory predicts that directional selection leads to evolutionary change while depleting standing genetic variation. Nevertheless, evolutionary stasis may occur for traits involved in social interactions. This requires t...
Article
Full-text available
How do environmental conditions influence selection and genetic variation in wild populations? There is widespread evidence for selection-by-environment interactions (S*E), but we reviewed studies of natural populations estimating the extent of genotype-by-environment interactions (G*E) in response to natural variation in environmental conditions,...
Article
Full-text available
Competition for resources including food, physical space, and potential mates is a fundamental ecological process shaping variation in individual phenotype and fitness. The evolution of competitive ability, in particular social dominance, depends on genetic (co)variation among traits causal (e.g., behaviour) or consequent (e.g. growth) to competiti...
Article
Full-text available
The pace-of-life syndrome (POLS) hypothesis predicts associations between life history and 'risky' behaviours. Individuals with 'fast' lifestyles should develop faster, reproduce earlier, exhibit more risk-prone behaviours, and die sooner than those with 'slow' lifestyles. While support for POLS has been equivocal to date, studies have relied on in...
Article
Full-text available
Within populations, individuals can vary in stress response, a multivariate phenomenon comprising neuroendocrine, physiological and behavioural traits. Verbal models of individual stress “coping style” have proposed that the behavioural component of this variation can be described as a single axis, with each individual's coping style being consiste...
Data
Appendix S1. Composition of Artificial Diets. Appendix S2. Multivariate Response Surface Approach Used to Characterize the Nutritional Landscapes for Life Span and Reproductive Effort. Appendix S3. Sequential Model‐Building Approach to Compare the Nutritional Landscapes for Life Span, Daily Reproductive Effort, and Lifetime Reproductive Effort....
Article
Full-text available
Antipredator behaviours can be lost relatively quickly in populations that are relieved of predation, as is known for several species inhabiting islands. Flight initiation distance (FID) is often studied in the context of island tameness; however, little is known about the factors that influence and maintain FID variation in predation-free populati...
Article
Full-text available
There is often large divergence in the effects of key nutrients on lifespan and reproduction in the sexes, yet nutrient intake is regulated in the same way in males and females given dietary choice. This suggests that the sexes are constrained from feeding to their sex-specific nutritional optima for these traits. Here we examine the potential for...
Article
Sexual selection can target many different types of traits. However, the relative influence of different sexually selected traits during evolutionary divergence is poorly understood. We used the field cricket $\textit{Teleogryllus oceanicus}$ to quantify and compare how five traits from each of three sexual signal modalities and components diverge...
Article
Sexual selection can target many different types of traits. However, the relative influence of different sexually-selected traits during evolutionary divergence is poorly understood. We used the field cricket Teleogryllus oceanicus to quantify and compare how five traits from each of three sexual signal modalities and components diverge among allop...