Reassessing the relationship between brain size, life history, and metabolism at the marsupial/placental dichotomy

Weisbecker, Vera and Goswami, Anjali (2014) Reassessing the relationship between brain size, life history, and metabolism at the marsupial/placental dichotomy. Zoological Science, 31 9: 608-612. doi:10.2108/zs140022


Author Weisbecker, Vera
Goswami, Anjali
Title Reassessing the relationship between brain size, life history, and metabolism at the marsupial/placental dichotomy
Journal name Zoological Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0289-0003
2212-3830
Publication date 2014-09
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2108/zs140022
Open Access Status
Volume 31
Issue 9
Start page 608
End page 612
Total pages 5
Place of publication Tokyo, Japan
Publisher Zoological Society of Japan
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract A vigorous discussion surrounds the question as to what enables some mammals—including primates and cetaceans—to evolve large brains. We recently published a study suggesting that the radiation of marsupial mammals is highly relevant to this question because of the unique reproductive and metabolic traits within this clade. In particular, we controversially suggested that marsupial brain sizes are not systematically smaller than those of placentals, and that elevated basal metabolic rates (BMR) are not linked to larger marsupial brains. As our dataset was found to contain some erroneous body size data, derived from a published source, we here use an updated and corrected dataset and employ standard as well as phylogenetically corrected analyses to re-assess and elaborate on our original conclusions. Our proposal that marsupials are not systematically smaller-brained than placentals remains supported, particularly when the unusually large-brained placental clade, Primates, is excluded. Use of the new dataset not only confirms that high metabolic rates are not associated with larger brain size in marsupials, but we additionally find some support for a striking negative correlation between BMR and brain size. The best supported correlates of large brain size remain the reproductive traits of weaning age and litter size. These results support our suggestion that mammalian brain sizes (including, by inference, those of monotremes) are predominantly constrained by the ability of females to fuel the growth of their offspring's large brains, rather than by the maintenance requirements of the adult brain.
Keyword Brain
Evolution
Life history
Marsupials
Reproduction
Mammals
Biology
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
 
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Created: Tue, 10 Mar 2015, 22:35:53 EST by Gail Walter on behalf of School of Biological Sciences