Predation pressure shapes brain anatomy in the wild
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There is remarkable diversity in brain anatomy among vertebrates and evidence is accumulating that predatory interactions are crucially important for this diversity. To test this hypothesis, we collected female guppies (Poecilia reticulata) from 16 wild populations and related their brain anatomy to several aspects of predation pressure in this ecosystem, such as the biomass of the four major predators of guppies (one prawn and three fish species), and predator diversity (number of predatory fish species in each site). We found that populations from localities with higher prawn biomass had relatively larger telencephalon size as well as larger brains. Optic tectum size was positively associated with one of the fish predator’s biomass and with overall predator diversity. However, both olfactory bulb and hypothalamus size were negatively associated with the biomass of another of the fish predators. Hence, while fish predator occurrence is associated with variation in brain anatomy, prawn occurrence is associated with variation in brain size. Our results suggest that cognitive challenges posed by local differences in predator communities may lead to changes in prey brain anatomy in the wild.
Kotrschal , A , Deacon , A E , Magurran , A E & Kolm , N 2017 , ' Predation pressure shapes brain anatomy in the wild ' Evolutionary Ecology , vol First Online . DOI: 10.1007/s10682-017-9901-8
© The Author(s) 2017. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
The predation pressure data were collected by AEM and AED as part of an ERC-funded project (BioTIME 250189), AEM was supported by the Royal Society, AK and NK were supported by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation (KAW2013.0072 to NK).
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