Annual variation in predation risk is related to the direction of selection for brain size in the wild

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Jaatinen , K , Moller , A P & Ost , M 2019 , ' Annual variation in predation risk is related to the direction of selection for brain size in the wild ' , Scientific Reports , vol. 9 , 11847 . https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-48153-w

Title: Annual variation in predation risk is related to the direction of selection for brain size in the wild
Author: Jaatinen, Kim; Moller, Anders P.; Ost, Markus
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Nat & Game Management Trust Finland
University of Helsinki, Tvärminne Zoological Station
Date: 2019-08-14
Language: eng
Number of pages: 7
Belongs to series: Scientific Reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/321474
Abstract: The direction of predator-mediated selection on brain size is debated. However, the speed and the accuracy of performing a task cannot be simultaneously maximized. Large-brained individuals may be predisposed to accurate but slow decision-making, beneficial under high predation risk, but costly under low risk. This creates the possibility of temporally fluctuating selection on brain size depending on overall predation risk. We test this idea in nesting wild eider females (Somateria mollissima), in which head volume is tightly linked to brain mass (r(2) = 0.73). We determined how female relative head volume relates to survival, and characterized the seasonal timing of predation. Previous work suggests that relatively large-brained and small-brained females make slow versus fast nest-site decisions, respectively, and that predation events occur seasonally earlier when predation is severe. Large-brained, late-breeding females may therefore have higher survival during high-predation years, but lower survival during safe years, assuming that predation disproportionately affects late breeders in such years. Relatively large-headed females outsurvived smaller-headed females during dangerous years, whereas the opposite was true in safer years. Predation events occurred relatively later during safe years. Fluctuations in the direction of survival selection on relative brain size may therefore arise due to brain-size dependent breeding phenology.
Subject: FLIGHT INITIATION DISTANCE
EVOLUTION
HYPOTHESIS
STRATEGIES
COGNITION
ECOLOGY
MODELS
FEMALE
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
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