Shifting the focus from species to individuals in invasion biology: individual differences in jumping behaviour

Aaron Jessop, Michael Morrissey, Miguel Barbosa

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Dispersal is critical to population persistence, colonization and connectivity which are all critical components of invasive success. While individual propensity to disperse varies within populations, the underlying mechanisms promoting individual dispersal remain unclear. Collectively, dispersal is influenced by the environment and individual phenotype. Here we investigated individual dispersal propensity in the Trinidadian guppy, Poecilia reticulata, and related individual variation in dispersal behaviour to phenotype and social/environmental conditions. Namely, we addressed the effect of sex ratio (social/environmental factor) on the tendency for individuals to disperse across physical barriers via jumping behaviour. Jumping is vital for the dispersal of many aquatic species and has been anecdotally linked to the guppy's global invasive success. We found similar jumping behaviour for males and females, with population sex ratio not influencing the magnitude of male or female dispersal. Further, we found consistent among-individual variation in jumping probability; individual differences explained 17.46% and 7.92% of total variation in jumping probability for males and females, respectively. These results strongly indicate that sex ratio does not influence jumping behaviour, suggesting that species invasions are mediated by a nonrandom subset of individuals with greater dispersal tendencies. Overall, this study stresses the need to move the focus of invasion biology from the species level to incorporate information on individual variation in behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Early online date27 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Apr 2024


  • Dispersal
  • Individuals
  • Invasive species
  • Jumping
  • Phenotype
  • Trinidadian guppy


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