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Predictable evolution towards larger brains in birds colonizing oceanic islands

Sayol, Ferran ; Downing, Philip A. LU ; Iwaniuk, Andrew N. ; Maspons, Joan and Sol, Daniel (2018) In Nature Communications 9(1).
Abstract

Theory and evidence suggest that some selective pressures are more common on islands than in adjacent mainland habitats, leading evolution to follow predictable trends. The existence of predictable evolutionary trends has nonetheless been difficult to demonstrate, mainly because of the challenge of separating in situ evolution from sorting processes derived from colonization events. Here we use brain size measurements of >1900 avian species to reveal the existence of one such trend: increased brain size in island dwellers. Based on sister-taxa comparisons and phylogenetic ancestral trait estimations, we show that species living on islands have relatively larger brains than their mainland relatives and that these differences mainly... (More)

Theory and evidence suggest that some selective pressures are more common on islands than in adjacent mainland habitats, leading evolution to follow predictable trends. The existence of predictable evolutionary trends has nonetheless been difficult to demonstrate, mainly because of the challenge of separating in situ evolution from sorting processes derived from colonization events. Here we use brain size measurements of >1900 avian species to reveal the existence of one such trend: increased brain size in island dwellers. Based on sister-taxa comparisons and phylogenetic ancestral trait estimations, we show that species living on islands have relatively larger brains than their mainland relatives and that these differences mainly reflect in situ evolution rather than varying colonization success. Our findings reinforce the view that in some instances evolution may be predictable, and yield insight into why some animals evolve larger brains despite substantial energetic and developmental costs.

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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
; ; ; and
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature Communications
volume
9
issue
1
article number
2820
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:85050973533
  • pmid:30065283
ISSN
2041-1723
DOI
10.1038/s41467-018-05280-8
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
5094ab22-c449-4c77-ba8c-48fa3ec38076
date added to LUP
2018-08-14 14:57:38
date last changed
2021-10-06 02:35:51
@article{5094ab22-c449-4c77-ba8c-48fa3ec38076,
  abstract     = {<p>Theory and evidence suggest that some selective pressures are more common on islands than in adjacent mainland habitats, leading evolution to follow predictable trends. The existence of predictable evolutionary trends has nonetheless been difficult to demonstrate, mainly because of the challenge of separating in situ evolution from sorting processes derived from colonization events. Here we use brain size measurements of &gt;1900 avian species to reveal the existence of one such trend: increased brain size in island dwellers. Based on sister-taxa comparisons and phylogenetic ancestral trait estimations, we show that species living on islands have relatively larger brains than their mainland relatives and that these differences mainly reflect in situ evolution rather than varying colonization success. Our findings reinforce the view that in some instances evolution may be predictable, and yield insight into why some animals evolve larger brains despite substantial energetic and developmental costs.</p>},
  author       = {Sayol, Ferran and Downing, Philip A. and Iwaniuk, Andrew N. and Maspons, Joan and Sol, Daniel},
  issn         = {2041-1723},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {07},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Communications},
  title        = {Predictable evolution towards larger brains in birds colonizing oceanic islands},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05280-8},
  doi          = {10.1038/s41467-018-05280-8},
  volume       = {9},
  year         = {2018},
}