Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Big-brained birds survive better in nature

10.01.2007
Birds with brains that are large in relation to their body size have a lower mortality rate than those with smaller brains, according to new research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences today.

The research provides the first evidence for what scientists describe as the ‘cognitive buffer’ hypothesis - the idea that having a large brain enables animals to have more flexible behaviours and survive environmental challenges.

This theory was first put forward to answer the puzzle surrounding why animals, including humans, would evolve a larger brain, given the ‘cost’ associated with developing and maintaining a larger brain.

The researchers compared the brain size, body mass and mortality rates in over 200 different species of birds from polar, temperate and tropical regions.

They found that birds with larger brains relative to their body size survived better in nature than birds with small brains. This may explain why, for example, birds with small relative brain sizes, such as pheasants, find it harder to avoid a moving car than those with larger brain size, such as magpies.

“The idea that large brains are associated with reduced mortality has never been scientifically tested,” said Dr Tamas Szekely from the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath.

“Birds are ideally suited for such a test, as they are one of the only groups of animals for which the relationship between large brains and enhanced behavioural response to ecological challenges is best understood.

“We have shown 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.”

The researchers made allowances for factors which may have accounted for variations in mortality rates, such as migratory behaviour, competition for mates and chick behaviour.

“Our findings suggest that large-brained animals might be better prepared to cope with environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction,” said Dr Szekely, who worked with researchers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain), Pannon University (Hungary) and McGill University (Canada) on the project.

“This is supported by other research which has shown that large-brained birds are more successful in colonising new regions and are better at surviving the changing seasons.”

The research was funded by grants from the Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia (Spain), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Andrew McLaughlin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2007/1/10/bigbrainedbirds.html

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The disappearance of common species
01.02.2018 | Technical University of Munich (TUM)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>