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David Canal

Researcher - Talent Attraction (CAM-CSIC) fellow

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 respond to sudden alterations in the environment rapidly.  Currently,  I am using collared flycatchers (Ficedula albicollis) 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 also been 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.



Sexually selected phenotypes are key to understanding population and eco-evolutionary dynamics since the expression of these traits is tightly linked to reproduction and population viability. Parasites are major agents of selection that alter both phenotypic expression and fitness. However, the carry-over effects of parasites in early life on selection on phenotypes expressed later in life are unknown..

Identifying the environmental drivers of variation in fitness-related traits is a central objective in ecology and evolutionary biology. Temporal fluctuations of these environmental drivers are often synchronized at large spatial scales. Yet, whether synchronous environmental conditions can generate spatial synchrony in fitness-related trait values (i.e., correlated temporal trait fluctuations across populations) is poorly understood... 

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