The ability to develop complex social bonds and an increased capacity for behavioural flexibility in novel environments have both been forwarded as selective forces favouring the evolution of a large brain in mammals. However, large brains are energetically expensive, and in circumstances in which selective pressures are relaxed, e.g. on islands, smaller brains are selected for. Similar reasoning has been offered to explain the reduction of brain size in domestic species relative to their wild relatives. Herein, we assess the effect of domestication, insularity and sociality on brain size evolution at the macroevolutionary scale. Our results are based on analyses of a 426-taxon tree, including both wild species and domestic breeds. We further develop the phylogenetic ridge regression comparative method (RRphylo) to work with discrete variables and compare the rates (tempo) and direction (mode) of brain size evolution among categories within each of three factors (sociality, insularity and domestication). The common assertion that domestication increases the rate of brain size evolution holds true. The same does not apply to insularity. We also find support for the suggested but previously untested hypothesis that species living in medium-sized groups exhibit faster rates of brain size evolution than either solitary or herding taxa.

The influence of domestication, insularity and sociality on the tempo and mode of brain size evolution in mammals

Castiglione Silvia;Piccolo Martina;Melchionna Marina;Raia Pasquale
2021

Abstract

The ability to develop complex social bonds and an increased capacity for behavioural flexibility in novel environments have both been forwarded as selective forces favouring the evolution of a large brain in mammals. However, large brains are energetically expensive, and in circumstances in which selective pressures are relaxed, e.g. on islands, smaller brains are selected for. Similar reasoning has been offered to explain the reduction of brain size in domestic species relative to their wild relatives. Herein, we assess the effect of domestication, insularity and sociality on brain size evolution at the macroevolutionary scale. Our results are based on analyses of a 426-taxon tree, including both wild species and domestic breeds. We further develop the phylogenetic ridge regression comparative method (RRphylo) to work with discrete variables and compare the rates (tempo) and direction (mode) of brain size evolution among categories within each of three factors (sociality, insularity and domestication). The common assertion that domestication increases the rate of brain size evolution holds true. The same does not apply to insularity. We also find support for the suggested but previously untested hypothesis that species living in medium-sized groups exhibit faster rates of brain size evolution than either solitary or herding taxa.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11588/828023
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