There is good evidence that natural selection drives the evolution of locomotor performance, but the processes that generate among individual variation in locomotion, the substrate upon which selection acts, are relatively poorly understood. We measured prolonged swimming performance, Ucrit, and morphology in a large cohort (n=461) of wildtype zebrafish, Danio rerio, at ∼6 months and again at ∼9 months. Using mixed model analyses to estimate repeatability as the intraclass correlation coefficient, we determined that Ucrit was significantly repeatable (r = 0.55; 95% CI: 0.45 -0.64). Performance differences between the sexes (males 12% faster than females) and changes with age (decreasing 0.07% per day) both contributed to variation in Ucrit and, therefore, the repeatability estimate. Accounting for mean differences between sexes within the model decreased the estimate of Ucrit repeatability to 21% below the naïve estimate, while fitting age in the models increased the estimate to 14% above the naïve estimate. Greater consideration of factors such as age and sex is therefore necessary for the interpretation of performance repeatability in wild populations. Body shape significantly predicted Ucrit in both sexes in both assays, with the morphology – performance relationship significantly repeatable at the population level. However, morphology was more strongly predicative of performance in older fish, suggesting a change in the contribution of morphology relative to other factors such as physiology and behaviour. The morphology – performance relationship changed with age to a greater extent in males than females.
- Received March 31, 2016.
- Accepted July 5, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd