Ecological conditions affect fitness, but mechanisms causing such effects are not well known, while evolved responses to environmental variation may depend on the underlying mechanisms. Consequences of environmental conditions vary strongly between traits, but a framework to interpret such variation is lacking. We propose that variation in trait response may be explained by differential canalisation, with traits with larger fitness effects showing weaker responses to environmental perturbations due to preferential resource allocation to such traits. We tested the canalisation hypothesis using brood size manipulation in wild jackdaw nestlings in which we measured eight physiological traits (mainly oxidative stress markers), and two feather traits. For each trait, we estimated manipulation response and association with fitness (over-winter survival). As predicted, a strong negative correlation emerged between manipulation response and association with fitness (r=-0.76). We discuss the consequences of differential trait canalization for the study of mechanisms mediating environmental effects on fitness.
The data package contains one dataset:
- This file contains the nestling information, brood size manipulation, survival, and physiological measurements data.
- oxidative stress
- Developmental stress
- life history
- phenotypic plasticity
- somatic damage