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Competition, niche specialization and the evolution of brain size in the genus Peromyscus

Mace, GM; Eisenberg, JF; (1982) Competition, niche specialization and the evolution of brain size in the genus Peromyscus. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society , 17 (3) 243 - 257.

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Abstract

Previous studies of relative brain size in mammals have suggested an association with complex habitats and with low reproductive rate. In order to examine the causal relationships more thoroughly, a detailed examination of relative brain size variation in the genus Peromyscus was undertaken. Endocranial volumes were used to estimate brain weight for 32 species including 161 subspecies, and relative brain size calculated as the species deviation from the allometric relationship between brain and body size. The intrageneric allometric coefficient was higher than most values previously reported from low taxonomic levels, but intraspecific coefficients were generally lower than this. Island species, and relict species isolated on mountain tops, which may be ecological 'islands', had consistently small relative brain sizes, but peninsular species were large brained. Among the remaining species there were significant correlations between litter size and relative brain size, and between the number of competitor species and relative brain size. Species with many competitor species have relatively large brains and small litters. It is concluded that the nature of the geographical distribution, the pattern of species formation and habitat complexity all influence relative brain size in existing forms. © 1982.

Type:Article
Title:Competition, niche specialization and the evolution of brain size in the genus Peromyscus
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of) > Genetics, Evolution and Environment

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