David Canal

David Canal ecologist behavioural ecology evolutionary conservation Doñana

I am interested in the evolutionary processes underlying phenotypic and life history trait variation in natural populations.

My main research line focuses on the causes of variation of individuals’ mating strategies -principally, extra pair paternity and social polygamy-, and the subsequent impact of these strategies on individual fitness. During my PhD, I also investigated the effect of individuals’ genetic diversity on fitness-related aspects such as survival or reproductive success.

Recently, I have started a set of studies focused on personality and behavioral plasticity. Behavioral traits are interesting because compared to morphological or life history traits are extremely flexible, being able to rapidly respond to sudden alterations  in  the environment.  Currently,  I am using collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis),  chimango caracaras (Milvago chimango) and bruchid beetles (Callosobrochus maculatus) as model species to shed light on questions such as whether individual differences in the components of behavior are heritable or related to fitness.


During my career, I have been also interested in conservation problems and thus, I have collaborated in projects investigating the effects of human activities on the demography and dynamics of wild populations.


pied flycatcher, ficedula hypoeuca, natural population, bird, ecology

Why females engage in social polygyny remains an unresolved question in species where the resources provided by males maximize female fitness. In these systems, the ability of males to access several females, as well as the willingness of females to mate with an already mated male, and the benefits of this choice, may be constrained by the socio-ecological factors experienced at the local scale...

Pied Flycatchers are known to be victims of nest killings in contexts of competition for nest boxes. However, there is only anecdotal information on their opposite role as perpetrators of nest takeovers and occasional killings of other songbirds. Over 31 years we examined whether competition with Great Tits over nest box ownership is a significant source of mortality for Pied Flycatchers  ...