Consistency of Behavioral Plasticity Across Nonsocial Contexts in the Green Swordtail, Xiphophorus helleri
Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an individual to express more than one morphological, physiological, or behavioral form in response to environmental cues. Through the adaptive value of phenotypic plasticity has long been recognized, little is known regarding how consistent an individual's plasticity in behavior can be across different functional contexts (such as anti-predator, foraging and general activity). In this study, the predator-induced plastic behaviors of female Xiphophorus hellri, with a focus on non-social behaviors were explored. Individuals underwent behavioral trials to investigate whether or not correlated behavioral plasticity is present across contexts in the presence and absence of a predator. This experiment addressed: (A) whether those individuals who express a high degree of predator-induced plasticity in one context, such as general activity, also show a high degree of plasticity in another context, such as foraging; and, (B) whether patterns of correlated behavioral plasticity vary with body size. Body size in Xiphophorus spp. has a strong genetic basis and has been shown to correlated with variation in behavior. Few studies have addressed how an individual's degree of plasticity in behavior might vary with size. By studying how the patterns of correlated plasticity vary with size, we stand to gain a deeper understanding of the adaptive significance of plasticity.