The behavioural ecology of individualised niches in the light of meta-analyses
Meta-analysis offers a versatile toolkit for synthesizing empirical results across multiple studies. By doing so, meta-analyses allow the identification of generalities and quantify the overall strength of effects, but also allow the identification of context-dependencies that influence the magnitude of biological relationships. The meta-analysis project offers a platform at the heart of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) that will synthesise results within the CRC and beyond. We aim to make use of the literature in two complementary ways. First, by classical meta-analysis that extracts effect sizes from studies addressing relevant research questions and second, by scanning the literature for data that have been published in some other context, but can be analysed in light of new hypotheses.
We propose to address the three core topics of the CRC:
- In the context of niche choice, we propose to review the evidence of self-sorting of populations by assortative mating and the effect of habitat complexity on behavioural diversity.
- In the context of niche conformance, we propose to review the evidence for developmental priming that is provided by a multitude of match-mismatch studies, both within and outside the CRC, and age-dependent changes in niche conformance on a lifetime scale.
- In the context of niche construction, we propose to review the magnitude of ecological inheritance and whether it leads to an increased speed of evolution.
Furthermore, we propose to explore the condition-, sex- and age-dependence of choosiness in niche specialization contexts, including social niche choice. The meta-analysis team will also pursue and develop emerging research questions in close collaboration with other members of the CRC. Furthermore, we present a strategy for how to identify and prioritise upcoming research topics, worth being pursued by meta-analysis, during the lifetime of the CRC.