Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 66, Issue 11, pp 1543–1548 | Cite as

Defining behavioural syndromes and the role of ‘syndrome deviation’ in understanding their evolution

  • Niels J. Dingemanse
  • Ned A. Dochtermann
  • Shinichi Nakagawa


This commentary highlights multivariate tools that have been used by evolutionary biologists in the study of syndromes and their evolution and discusses the insights that these methods provide into evolutionary processes relative to the metric ‘syndrome deviation’ that has recently been proposed by Herczeg and Garamszegi (Behav Ecol Sociobiol 66:161–169, 2012). We clarify that non-zero phenotypic correlations arise from the joint influences of within- and between-individual correlations, whereas only non-zero between-individual correlations represent behavioural syndromes, and discuss how acknowledgement of this subtle difference between phenotypic and between-individual correlations affects the applicability of syndrome deviation for the study of behavioural syndromes.


Animal personality Behavioural syndrome Correlational selection Quantitative genetics Mixed-effect modelling 



NJD was supported by the Max Planck Society, and SN, by the Humboldt Fellowship and Marsden Fund. We acknowledge the input of two anonymous referees who both shared a number of ideas for the analyses of syndrome structure that have been gratefully included in a revised version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels J. Dingemanse
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ned A. Dochtermann
    • 3
  • Shinichi Nakagawa
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Evolutionary Ecology of Variation GroupMax Planck Institute for OrnithologySeewiesenGermany
  2. 2.Behavioural Ecology, Department Biology IILudwig-Maximilians University of MunichPlanegg-MartinsriedGermany
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesNorth Dakota State UniversityFargoUSA
  4. 4.National Research Centre of Growth and Development, Department of ZoologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand
  5. 5.Department of Behavioural Ecology and Evolutionary GeneticsMax Planck Institute for OrnithologySeewiesenGermany

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