Behavioral Flexibility Positively Correlated with Relative Brain Volume in Predatory Bats

John M. Ratcliffe, M. Brock Fenton, Sara J. Shettleworth
2006 Brain, Behavior and Evolution  
We investigated the potential relationships between foraging strategies and relative brain and brain region volumes in predatory (animal-eating) echolocating bats. The species we considered represent the ancestral state for the order and approximately 70% of living bat species. The two dominant foraging strategies used by echolocating predatory bats are substrate-gleaning (taking prey from surfaces) and aerial hawking (taking airborne prey). We used species-specifi c behavioral, morphological,
more » ... al, morphological, and ecological data to classify each of 59 predatory species as one of the following: (1) ground gleaning, (2) behaviorally fl exible (i.e., known to both glean and hawk prey), (3) clutter tolerant aerial hawking, or (4) open-space aerial hawking. In analyses using both species level data and phylogenetically independent contrasts, relative brain size was larger in behaviorally fl exible species. Further, relative neocortex volume was signifi cantly reduced in bats that aerially hawk prey primarily in open spaces. Conversely, our foraging behavior index did not account for variability in hippocampus and inferior colliculus volume and we discuss these results in the context of past research.
doi:10.1159/000090980 pmid:16415571 fatcat:pucnfkz6qrb4ndy4fzwqwoo52i