Big-brained birds survive better in nature

Daniel Sol, Tamás Székely, András Liker, Louis Lefebvre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

129 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Big brains are hypothesized to enhance survival of animals by facilitating flexible cognitive responses that buffer individuals against environmental stresses. Although this theory receives partial support from the finding that brain size limits the capacity of animals to behaviourally respond to environmental challenges, the hypothesis that large brains are associated with reduced mortality has never been empirically tested. Using extensive information on avian adult mortality from natural populations, we show here that species with larger brains, relative to their body size, experience lower mortality than species with smaller brains, supporting the general importance of the cognitive buffer hypothesis in the evolution of large brains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-769
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume274
Issue number1611
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 22 2007

Keywords

  • Behavioural flexibility
  • Brain evolution
  • Life-history theory
  • Mortality rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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