The social environment as a driver of behavioural plasticity within and between generations: From genes to behaviour
Samantha Patrick, University of Liverpool;
Niels Dingemanse, University of Munich;
Julien Martin, University of Aberdeen;
Social interactions, both within and between generations, characterize all major taxa, including animals, plants, and micro-organisms, and thus represent a major phenomenon. Many behavioural traits that animals express are modified as a function of phenotypes expressed by conspecifics around them. This form of plasticity, termed here social responsiveness, is very common in nature. In particular we know that within generation effects, such as sibling and conspecific competition, and among generations effects, such as parent-offspring conflict, shape an individual’s phenotype from the level of gene expression through to behavioural traits. However, the predicted crucial role that social interactions play in the shaping individual phenotype remains relatively underexplored in evolutionary behavioural ecology research.
Social responsiveness is relevant to a large number of research areas studied in behavioural ecology, but a heuristic integrative framework is currently missing. Recent calls for the incorporation of evolutionary theory (e.g. quantitative genetics paradigms) alongside physiological investigations (e.g. pace of life) in behavioural ecology studies of such social interactions highlight the importance of bringing together researchers across disparate fields. Speakers at the forefront of the field of behavioural plasticity will cover molecular, physiological and behavioural approaches and will provide a unique networking opportunity for behavioural scientist to engage with geneticists and physiologists to truly understand how mechanistic approaches underpin individual differences in behaviour.
Confirmed Invited speakers:
Sinead English (University of Bristol)
Alastair Wilson (University of Exeter)