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Big brains stabilize populations and facilitate colonization of variable habitats in birds [Nature Ecology & Evolution]

Keywords : biogeography, evolutionary ecology, population dynamics

par Frédéric Magné - publié le

The cognitive buffer hypothesis posits that environmental variability can be a major driver of the evolution of cognition because an enhanced ability to produce flexible behavioural responses facilitates coping with the unexpected. Although comparative evidence supports different aspects of this hypothesis, a direct connection between cognition and the ability to survive a variable and unpredictable environment has yet to be demonstrated. Here, we use complementary demographic and evolutionary analyses to show that among birds, the mechanistic premise of this hypothesis is well supported but the implied direction of causality is not.(...)

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