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Bigger is not always better: when brains get smaller


Safi, K; Seid, M A; Dechmann, D K N (2005). Bigger is not always better: when brains get smaller. Biology Letters, 1(3):283-286.

Abstract

Many studies assume that an increase in brain size is beneficial. However, the costs of producing and maintaining a brain are high, and we argue that brain size should be secondarily reduced by natural selection whenever the costs outweigh the benefits. Our results confirm this by showing that brain size is subject to bidirectional selection. Relative to the ancestral state, brain size in bats has been reduced in fast flyers, while it has increased in manoeuvrable flyers adapted to flight in complex habitats. This study emphasizes that brain reduction and enlargement are equally important, and they should both be considered when investigating brain size evolution.

Many studies assume that an increase in brain size is beneficial. However, the costs of producing and maintaining a brain are high, and we argue that brain size should be secondarily reduced by natural selection whenever the costs outweigh the benefits. Our results confirm this by showing that brain size is subject to bidirectional selection. Relative to the ancestral state, brain size in bats has been reduced in fast flyers, while it has increased in manoeuvrable flyers adapted to flight in complex habitats. This study emphasizes that brain reduction and enlargement are equally important, and they should both be considered when investigating brain size evolution.

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39 citations in Web of Science®
42 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Zoology (former)
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:22 September 2005
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:16
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:14
Publisher:The Royal Society
ISSN:1744-9561
Publisher DOI:10.1098/rsbl.2005.0333
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-582

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