Heritability of boldness and aggressiveness in the zebrafish

Tolulope O. Ariyomo, Mauricio Carter, Penelope J. Watt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Behavioural traits that are consistent over time and in different contexts are often referred to as personality traits. These traits influence fitness because they play a major role in foraging, reproduction and survival, and so it is assumed that they have little or no additive genetic variance and, consequently, low heritability because, theoretically, they are under strong selection. Boldness and aggressiveness are two personality traits that have been shown to affect fitness. By crossing single males to multiple females, we estimated the heritability of boldness and aggressiveness in the zebrafish, Danio rerio. The additive genetic variance was statistically significant for both traits and the heritability estimates (95 % confidence intervals) for boldness and aggressiveness were 0.76 (0.49, 0.90) and 0.36 (0.10, 0.72) respectively. Furthermore, there were significant maternal effects accounting for 18 and 9 % of the proportion of phenotypic variance in boldness and aggressiveness respectively. This study shows that there is a significant level of genetic variation in this population that would allow these traits to evolve in response to selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-167
Number of pages7
JournalBehavior Genetics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • Additive genetic variance
  • Aggressiveness
  • Boldness
  • Heritability
  • Maternal effects
  • Personality traits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


Dive into the research topics of 'Heritability of boldness and aggressiveness in the zebrafish'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this