Parenting behaviour is highly heritable in male stickleback

Alison M. Bell, Rebecca Trapp, Jason Keagy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Parental care is critical for fitness, yet little is known about its genetic basis. Here, we estimate the heritability of parenting behaviour in a species famous for its diversity and its behavioural repertoire: three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus). Male three-spined stickleback are the sole providers of parental care that is necessary for offspring survival; therefore, this system offers the opportunity to study the inheritance of parental behaviour when selection is primarily acting on males. Fanning behaviour is a conspicuous parental behaviour that is readily quantified in this species. We show that the heritability of fanning behaviour is ≥0.9 and significantly different from zero within a freshwater population. Moreover, there was abundant genetic variation for fanning behaviour, indicating that it could readily evolve. These results suggest that parenting behaviour is tractable for further genetic dissection in this system..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number171029
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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