A larger brain confers a benefit in a spatial mate search learning task in male guppies
2015 (English)In: Behavioral Ecology, ISSN 1045-2249, E-ISSN 1465-7279, Vol. 26, no 2, 527-532 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Brain size varies dramatically among vertebrates, and selection for increased cognitive abilities is thought to be the key force underlying the evolution of a large brain. Indeed, numerous comparative studies suggest positive relationships between cognitively demanding aspects of behavior and brain size controlled for body size. However, experimental evidence for the link between relative brain size and cognitive ability is surprisingly scarce and to date stems from a single study on brain size selected guppies (Poecilia reticulata), where large-brained females were shown to outperform small-brained females in a numerical learning assay. Because the results were inconclusive for males in that study, we here use a more ecologically relevant test of male cognitive ability to investigate whether or not a relatively larger brain increases cognitive ability also in males. We compared mate search ability of these artificially selected large-and small-brained males in a maze and found that large-brained males were faster at learning to find a female in a maze. Large-brained males decreased the time spent navigating the maze faster than small-brained males and were nearly twice as fast through the maze after 2 weeks of training. Our results support that relatively larger brains are better also for males in some contexts, which further substantiates that variation in vertebrate brain size is generated through the balance between energetic costs and cognitive benefits.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 26, no 2, 527-532 p.
brain size, cognition, guppy, maze
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-252236DOI: 10.1093/beheco/aru227ISI: 000352271800033OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-252236DiVA: diva2:809929