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Environmental Seasonality and Mammalian Brain Size Evolution


Heldstab, Sandra A; Isler, Karin (2019). Environmental Seasonality and Mammalian Brain Size Evolution. eLS Wiley Online Library:online.

Abstract

Ecology has been shown to be among the main drivers of brain size evolution. One important ecological aspect is environmental seasonality. Seasonality is related to brain size evolution in two different ways: On one hand, seasonality acts as energetic constraint on brain size because it forces animals to deal with periodic food shortages (expensive brain hypothesis). On the other hand, seasonality may act as a selective pressure to increase brain size, as cognitive and behavioural flexibility helps to overcome periods of food scarcity (cognitive buffer hypothesis). Current evidence suggests that energetic constraints imposed by environmental seasonality play a crucial role in mammalian brain size evolution, cognitive buffering; on the contrary, seems to be less ubiquitous and is mainly found in large‐brained species such as haplorrhine primates and birds.

Abstract

Ecology has been shown to be among the main drivers of brain size evolution. One important ecological aspect is environmental seasonality. Seasonality is related to brain size evolution in two different ways: On one hand, seasonality acts as energetic constraint on brain size because it forces animals to deal with periodic food shortages (expensive brain hypothesis). On the other hand, seasonality may act as a selective pressure to increase brain size, as cognitive and behavioural flexibility helps to overcome periods of food scarcity (cognitive buffer hypothesis). Current evidence suggests that energetic constraints imposed by environmental seasonality play a crucial role in mammalian brain size evolution, cognitive buffering; on the contrary, seems to be less ubiquitous and is mainly found in large‐brained species such as haplorrhine primates and birds.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:15 October 2019
Deposited On:13 Feb 2020 15:32
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:23
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISBN:9780470016176
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470015902.a0028741
Other Identification Number:9780470015902

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