Boldness and predator evasion in naturally hybridizing swordtails (Teleostei: Xiphophorus) Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2015 Current Zoology. Correlations among behavioral traits can generate trade-offs and constrain phenotypic evolution. Interspecific hybridization has the potential to alter behavioral trait correlations, but the effect of hybridization on suites of behavioral traits has received relatively little attention. We evaluated how natural hybridization changes the relationship between boldness (time of emergence and proportion of time out of shelter) and response to a simulated predator threat in swordtails (Teleostei: Xiphophorus). In poeciliid fishes, bold individuals have increased survival in the presence of predators. This non-intuitive observation may arise as a result of bold individuals being more likely to engage in anti-predator behaviors. Contrary to our prediction, bold individuals were less likely to perform a fast-start response to a predator threat. This correlation was consistent among populations and species but was only significant in hybrids. The observed correlation between boldness and anti-predator behavior could impact hybrid fitness and the evolvability of hybrid lineages. More generally, our findings suggest that hybridization could influence the integration of behavioral phenotypes, as has been amply documented for morphology. Animal personality and behavioral syndromes could therefore play an important role in the evolutionary fate of natural hybrids.

author list (cited authors)

  • Johnson, J. B., Culumber, Z. W., Easterling, R., & Rosenthal, G. G.

citation count

  • 5

publication date

  • August 2015