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Variation at the DRD4 locus is associated with wariness and local site selection in urban black swans

van Dongen, Wouter F. D., Robinson, Randall W, Weston, Michael A., Mulder, Raoul A. and Guay, Patrick-Jean 2015, Variation at the DRD4 locus is associated with wariness and local site selection in urban black swans, BMC evolutionary biology, vol. 15, Article Number : 253, pp. 1-11, doi: 10.1186/s12862-015-0533-8.

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Title Variation at the DRD4 locus is associated with wariness and local site selection in urban black swans
Author(s) van Dongen, Wouter F. D.
Robinson, Randall W
Weston, Michael A.ORCID iD for Weston, Michael A. orcid.org/0000-0002-8717-0410
Mulder, Raoul A.
Guay, Patrick-Jean
Journal name BMC evolutionary biology
Volume number 15
Season Article Number : 253
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 1471-2148
Keyword(s) Black swan
DRD4
Flight initiation distance
Habitat selection
SERT
Urbanisation
Summary  BACKGROUND: Interactions between wildlife and humans are increasing. Urban animals are often less wary of humans than their non-urban counterparts, which could be explained by habituation, adaptation or local site selection. Under local site selection, individuals that are less tolerant of humans are less likely to settle in urban areas. However, there is little evidence for such temperament-based site selection, and even less is known about its underlying genetic basis. We tested whether site selection in urban and non-urban habitats by black swans (Cygnus atratus) was associated with polymorphisms in two genes linked to fear in animals, the dopamine receptor D4 (DRD4) and serotonin transporter (SERT) genes.

RESULTS: Wariness in swans was highly repeatable between disturbance events (repeatability = 0.61) and non-urban swans initiated escape from humans earlier than urban swans. We found no inter-individual variation in the SERT gene, but identified five DRD4 genotypes and an association between DRD4 genotype and wariness. Individuals possessing the most common DRD4 genotype were less wary than individuals possessing rarer genotypes. As predicted by the local site selection hypothesis, genotypes associated with wary behaviour were over three times more frequent at the non-urban site. This resulted in moderate population differentiation at DRD4 (FST = 0.080), despite the sites being separated by only 30 km, a short distance for this highly-mobile species. Low population differentiation at neutrally-selected microsatellite loci and the likely occasional migration of swans between the populations reduces the likelihood of local site adaptations.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that wariness in swans is partly genetically-determined and that wary swans settle in less-disturbed areas. More generally, our findings suggest that site-specific management strategies may be necessary that consider the temperament of local animals.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12862-015-0533-8
Field of Research 0603 Evolutionary Biology
0604 Genetics
050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
Socio Economic Objective 960807 Fresh, Ground and Surface Water Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2015, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30080321

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.