Published March 27, 2023 | Version v1
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Data from: Mesocosm experiment reveals scale-dependence of movement tendencies in sticklebacks


Habitat fragmentation can have negative impacts on migratory organisms that rely on the functional connectivity between growing and breeding grounds. Quantifying the population-level phenotypic consequences of such fragmentation requires fine-scaled tracking of individual behaviour and movements across relevant scales. We here make use of a natural experiment where some populations of 'migrant' three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) became 'residents', following habitat fragmentation five decades ago. To test whether residents have a lower movement tendency than migrants, we developed a novel experimental platform that allows the automated tracking of individual movements via RFID technology in a semi-natural mesocosm where spatio-temporal scales and environmental conditions can be manipulated. We found that residents moved significantly less than migrants at large but not at small spatial scale. This pattern was consistent across time and contexts (water flow and group size). Our study substantiates prior literature on rapid phenotypic divergence in sticklebacks 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.


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

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

Funding provided by: Waddenfonds
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Award Number: Ruim Baan voor Vissen 2



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Is derived from
10.5281/zenodo.7594745 (DOI)