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The costs of mischoosing are not uniform across individuals


Matching habitat choice is a particular form of habitat selection based on self?assessment of local performance that offers individuals a means to optimize the match of phenotype to the environment. Despite the advantages of this mechanism in terms of increased local adaptation, examples from natural populations are extremely rare. One possible reason for the apparent rarity of matching habitat choice is that it might be manifest only in those segments of a population for which the cost of a phenotype–environment mismatch is high. To test this hypothesis, we used a breeding population of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) exposed to size-dependent predation risk by bears, and evaluated the costs of mischoosing in discrete groups (e.g. male versus females, and ocean?age 2 versus ocean?age 3) using reproductive life span as a measure of individual performance. Bear preference for larger fish, especially in shallow water, translates into a performance trade-off that sockeye salmon can potentially use to guide their settlement decisions. Consistent with matching habitat choice, we found that salmon of similar ocean?age and size tended to cluster together in sites of similar water depth. However, matching habitat choice was only favoured in 3?ocean females – the segment of the population most vulnerable to bear predation. This study illustrates the unequal relevance of matching habitat choice to different segments of a population, and suggests that ‘partial matching habitat choice' could have resulted in an underestimation of the actual prevalence of this mechanism in nature. informacion[at] Camacho & Hendry (2020) Matching habitat choice: it's not for everyone. Oikos DOI 10.1111/oik.06932
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Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches

Competitive environments promote high testosterone levels, oxidative stress and, consequently, impair cellular homeostasis. The regulation of genes involved in the synthesis of the pigment pheomelanin in melanocytes seems to help to maintain homeostasis against environmental oxidative stress. Here, social interactions in some zebra finch Taeniopygia guttata males were experimentally increased by keeping them in groups of six birds during feather growth, while others were kept alone, to test if melanocytes show epigenetic lability under a competitive social environment. As these changes may depend on the oxidative status, buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) was administrated to decrease the antioxidant capacity of some birds. The competitive environment downregulated a gene involved in pheomelanin synthesis (Slc7a11) by changing the level of DNA methylation in feather melanocytes. In other genes involved in pheomelanin synthesis (Slc45a2, MC1R and AGRP), DNA methylation was also affected, but no changes in expression were detected. The exposure to the competitive environment did not affect systemic oxidative stress and damage, indicating that a protective epigenetic mechanism that changes the expression of Slc7a11 may have been activated. However, no changes on the pigmentation phenotype of birds were found, likely due to the short duration or low intensity of the competitive environment. BSO treatment did not affect the epigenetic mechanism, suggesting that the antioxidant capacity of birds was high enough to deal with the competitive environment. An epigenetic mechanism limiting pheomelanin synthesis gets therefore activated under exposure to a competitive environment in male zebra finches, which may help avoiding damage caused by competitive interactions. informacion[at] Rodríguez-Martínez & Galván (2019) Exposure to a competitive social environment activates an epigenetic mechanism that limits pheomelanin synthesis in zebra finches. Molecular Ecol