Comparative support for the expensive tissue hypothesis: Big brains are correlated with smaller gut and greater parental investment in Lake Tanganyika cichlids
Wiley for the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE)
© 2014 The Author(s). Evolution published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Society for the Study of Evolution. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
The brain is one of the most energetically expensive organs in the vertebrate body. Consequently, the energetic requirements of encephalization are suggested to impose considerable constraints on brain size evolution. Three main hypotheses concerning how energetic constraints might affect brain evolution predict covariation between brain investment and (1) investment into other costly tissues, (2) overall metabolic rate, and (3) reproductive investment. To date, these hypotheses have mainly been tested in homeothermic animals and the existing data are inconclusive. However, there are good reasons to believe that energetic limitations might play a role in large-scale patterns of brain size evolution also in ectothermic vertebrates. Here, we test these hypotheses in a group of ectothermic vertebrates, the Lake Tanganyika cichlid fishes. After controlling for the effect of shared ancestry and confounding ecological variables, we find a negative association between brain size and gut size. Furthermore, we find that the evolution of a larger brain is accompanied by increased reproductive investment into egg size and parental care. Our results indicate that the energetic costs of encephalization may be an important general factor involved in the evolution of brain size also in ectothermic vertebrates.
The authors thank the staff of the Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives at Mpulungu, Zambia, for their cooperation during fieldwork, especially for collecting fishes from the deeper levels. They also thank H. Tanaka for collecting fish samples for us. This study was funded through the student exchange support program (scholarship for long-term study abroad) from the Japanese Student Services Organization (JASSO) to MT, the Zoologiska foundation to MT and AK, a Davis Expedition Fund grant, Helge Axelsson Johnson grant, and a Stiftelsen Hierta-Retzius stipendiefond grant to AH, the Austrian Science Fund (J 3304-B24) to AK, and a Swedish Research Council grant to NK. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.
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Vol. 69, pp. 190 - 200
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