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Title: Social networks and individual behaviour variation in wild crickets
Author: Fisher, David Newton
ISNI:       0000 0004 5920 0904
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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Individuals engage in competitive and cooperative interactions with conspecifics. Furthermore, within any population of interacting individuals there are typically consistent differences among-individuals in behavioural traits. Understanding the importance of both these types of individual-specific behaviours allows us to understand why populations are structured as they are, why individuals show apparently limited behavioural flexibility, and how these elements link to population-level properties. I used extensive video camera monitoring of a population of wild field crickets (Gryllus campestris) to study the interactions and behaviours of uniquely identified individuals. I studied the shyness, activity and exploration of individuals of this population across contexts: from young to old and between captivity and the wild. This allowed me to confirm that individuals were relatively consistent across their adult lifetimes for all three traits, but only consistent between captivity and the wild for activity and exploration. I then found that high activity levels were positively related to high mating rates and short lifespans. Crucially, lifetime mating success was not related to activity level, indicating that the trade-off between lifespan and mating success was sufficient to allow variation in activity level to persist across generations. I also found that cricket social network structure is stable across generations despite the complete turnover of individuals every year. This social network structure influences sexual selection, with some male crickets heavily involved in networks of both pre- and post-copulatory competition, yet males are unable to use pre-copulatory competition to avoid post-copulatory competition. Additionally, positive assortment by mating rate between males and females may reduce the fitness of males with high mating rates, as they face stronger sperm competition. Finally, I used actor-based models to determine the factors predicting cricket social network structure and to test and reject the social-niche hypothesis for the maintenance of among-individual variation in behaviour. I also demonstrated that little else is needed in a stochastically changing network aside from positive assortment by mating rate to simulate a population with a similar skew in mating success to the one observed in the real cricket population. These results give insights into the importance of trade-offs and stochasticity in maintaining the extensive variation in the natural world.
Supervisor: Tregenza, Tom ; Rodríguez-Munoz, Rolando ; Royle, Nick Sponsor: Natural Environment Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: biology ; stochastic actor-orientated model ; behavioural ecology ; Evolutionary biology ; Social networks ; Social network analysis ; Animal personality