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Brain size and evolutionary diversification in birds
Sayol i Altarriba, Ferran
Sol, Daniel
The role of behavior in evolution remains controversial, despite that some ideas are over 100 years old. Changes in behavior are generally believed to enhance evolution by exposing individuals to new selective pressures and by facilitating range expansions. However, this hypothesis lacks firm empirical evidence. Moreover, behavioral changes can also inhibit evolution by hiding heritable variation from natural selection. Taking advantage of the complete phylogeny of extant birds, a new species-level measure of past diversification rate and the best existing measures of brain size (n = 1326 species), I show here that relative brain size is associated (albeit weakly) with diversification rates. Assuming that brain relative size reflects behavioral flexibility, an assumption well-supported by evidence, this finding supports the idea that behavior can enhance evolutionary diversification. This view is further supported by the discovery that the most important factor influencing diversification rates is ecological generalism, which is believed to require behavioral flexibility. Thus, behavioral changes that expose animals to a variety of environments can have played an important role in the evolution of birds.
574 - Ecologia general i biodiversitat
Ocells -- Hàbits i conducta
Ocells -- Evolució
Ocells -- Anatomia
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38 p.

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