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 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.



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...

Behavioural variation in courtship has become a central theme in the study of sexual selection. Courtship behaviour can vary consistently between males (between-individual variation) due to inherent characteristics of individuals, but males may also plastically adjust their courtship (within-individual variation) in response to the characteristics of the potential breeding mate or the environmental contexts ...