Published May 13, 2022 | Version v1
Dataset Open

Mesocosm experiments reveal the loss of migratory tendencies in a recently isolated population of three-spined sticklebacks


In the 1970s, water management in the Netherlands resulted in numerous isolated populations of three-spined sticklebacks, which can no longer migrate from freshwater to the sea. We tested whether ~50 years of isolation resulted in reduced migratory tendencies in these resident sticklebacks. Lab-based individual testing showed behavioural divergence between residents and migrants, but also produced counter-intuitive results, especially with regards to movement tendencies. To detect differences in migration tendencies, we set up a semi-natural mesocosm, consisting of connected ponds, where movements of numerous individuals could continually be tracked at larger spatial scales. We found that wild-caught residents and migrants exhibited no differences in movement tendencies within ponds, but residents moved significantly less between ponds than migrants. Between-pond movements were consistent and the observed differences were robust across contexts (changes in water flow and group size). Our study reveals that larger-scale movement tendencies can diverge over short time scales in response to human-induced isolation, and highlights the importance of observing behaviour in ecologically relevant setups that bridge the gap between lab and field studies.


Funding provided by: Adaptive Life PhD fellowship**
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Award Number:

Funding provided by: ERC Advanced Grant*
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: 789240

Funding provided by: Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek
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Award Number: ALWOP.668

Funding provided by: Gratama Stichting
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Award Number: 2020GR040

Funding provided by: Dr. J.L.Dobberke Foundation*
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Award Number: KNAWWF/3391/1911

Funding provided by: Waddenfonds
Crossref Funder Registry ID:
Award Number: Ruim Baan voor Vissen 2



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