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Behaviour, ecology and social organisation in Liopholis whitii: insights into the evolutionary origins of sociality

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Halliwell, B 2017 , 'Behaviour, ecology and social organisation in Liopholis whitii: insights into the evolutionary origins of sociality', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

Sociality is one of the most captivating properties of animal life, encompassing a remarkable diversity of behaviour. As well as varying greatly in form and function, social organisation is taxonomically widespread, indicating convergent benefits of group living. The centrality of social interactions in many ecological processes also makes social organization crucial to our understanding of a range of evolutionary principles. Despite this, both the mechanisms by which natural selection has led to diversity in social systems, and the conditions promoting the initial emergence of group living, remain unclear. If we are to understand how sociality emerges and diversifies over evolutionary time we need an integrated approach that identifies the causes and consequences of variation in social and mating behaviour in ecological settings, and relate this variation to the selective forces modulating social complexity.
Reptiles have recently been highlighted as a valuable system to address questions about the evolution of sociality. One lineage in particular, the Egernia skinks of Australia, display considerable variation in social organization, with species representing a continuum of social complexity from solitary living to large communal family groups. This variation in social complexity is matched by parallel variation in rates of genetic monogamy, implicating mating behaviour in the evolutionary forces driving diversity in social traits. Studies suggest that diversification in social and mating behaviour across the group are the result of variation in ecological conditions, specifically variation in the distribution and availability of suitable habitat. However experimental studies evaluating the ecological context dependence of social and mating behaviour are lacking. My PhD had two primary aims. First, to experimentally evaluate the influence of key habitat characteristics on the social and mating behaviour of a family living Egernia skink, Liopholis whitii. Second, to translate this mechanistic understanding of behavioural variation to the processes underlying diversification of social organization more generally. This allowed me to connect processes occurring across levels of biological organization, contributing to a more holistic understanding of the emergence, maintenance and diversification of social living.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Halliwell, B
Keywords: behavioural ecology, social evolution, sociality, egernia
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2016 the author

Additional Information:

Chapter 2 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Behavioral ecology following peer review. The version of record, Halliwell, B., Uller, T., Wapstra, E., While, G. M., 2017. Resource distribution mediates social and mating behavior in a family living lizard, Behavioural ecology, 28(1), 145-153 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arw134

Chapter 3 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Botterill-James, T., Halliwell, B., Cooper-Scott, E., Uller, T., Wapstra, E., While, G. M., 2016. Habitat structure influences parent-offspring association in a social lizard, Frontiers in ecology and evolution 4:96, 1-10, first published by Frontiers Media under a Creative Commons license

Chapter 4 appears to be the equivalent of a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Behavioral ecology following peer review. The version of record, Halliwell, B., Uller, T., Chapple, D., Gardner, M., Wapstra, E., While, G. M., 2017. Habitat saturation promotes delayed dispersal in a social reptile, Behavioural ecology, 28(2), 515-522 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arw181

Chapter 6 appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: Halliwell, B., Uller, T., Holland, B., While, G. M., 2017. Live bearing promotes the evolution of sociality in reptiles, Nature communications, 8, 2030, 1-8, published under a Creative Commons license

Appendix V appears to be the equivalent of a post-print version of an article published as: While, G. M., Williamson, J., Prescott, G., Horváthová, T., Fresnillo, B., Beeton, N., Halliwell, B., Michaelides, S., Uller, T. 2016. Adaptive responses to cool climate promotes persistence of a non-native lizard, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 282(1803), 1-9, published under a Creative Commons license

Appendix VI appears to be the equivalent of a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Behavioral ecology and sociobiology. The final authenticated version is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00265-016-2217-9

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