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Adaptation of brain regions to habitat complexity: a comparative analysis in bats (Chiroptera).


Safi, K; Dechmann, D K N (2005). Adaptation of brain regions to habitat complexity: a comparative analysis in bats (Chiroptera). Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 272(1559):179-186.

Abstract

Vertebrate brains are organized in modules which process information from sensory inputs selectively. Therefore they are probably under different evolutionary pressures. We investigated the impact of environmental influences on specific brain centres in bats. We showed in a phylogenetically independent contrast analysis that the wing area of a species corrected for body size correlated with estimates of habitat complexity. We subsequently compared wing area, as an indirect measure of habitat complexity, with the size of regions associated with hearing, olfaction and spatial memory, while controlling for phylogeny and body mass. The inferior colliculi, the largest sub-cortical auditory centre, showed a strong positive correlation with wing area in echolocating bats. The size of the main olfactory bulb did not increase with wing area, suggesting that the need for olfaction may not increase during the localization of food and orientation in denser habitat. As expected, a larger wing area was linked to a larger hippocampus in all bats. Our results suggest that morphological adaptations related to flight and neuronal capabilities as reflected by the sizes of brain regions coevolved under similar ecological pressures. Thus, habitat complexity presumably influenced and shaped sensory abilities in this mammalian order independently of each other.

Abstract

Vertebrate brains are organized in modules which process information from sensory inputs selectively. Therefore they are probably under different evolutionary pressures. We investigated the impact of environmental influences on specific brain centres in bats. We showed in a phylogenetically independent contrast analysis that the wing area of a species corrected for body size correlated with estimates of habitat complexity. We subsequently compared wing area, as an indirect measure of habitat complexity, with the size of regions associated with hearing, olfaction and spatial memory, while controlling for phylogeny and body mass. The inferior colliculi, the largest sub-cortical auditory centre, showed a strong positive correlation with wing area in echolocating bats. The size of the main olfactory bulb did not increase with wing area, suggesting that the need for olfaction may not increase during the localization of food and orientation in denser habitat. As expected, a larger wing area was linked to a larger hippocampus in all bats. Our results suggest that morphological adaptations related to flight and neuronal capabilities as reflected by the sizes of brain regions coevolved under similar ecological pressures. Thus, habitat complexity presumably influenced and shaped sensory abilities in this mammalian order independently of each other.

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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 January 2005
Deposited On:11 Feb 2008 12:16
Last Modified:03 Aug 2017 14:43
Publisher:Royal Society of London
ISSN:0962-8452
Free access at:PubMed ID. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2004.2924
PubMed ID:15695209

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