Brains and bravery : little evidence of a relationship between brain size and flightiness in shorebirds

Guay, P. J., Weston, M. A., Symonds, M. R. E. and Glover, H. K. 2013, Brains and bravery : little evidence of a relationship between brain size and flightiness in shorebirds, Austral ecology, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 516-522.

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Title Brains and bravery : little evidence of a relationship between brain size and flightiness in shorebirds
Author(s) Guay, P. J.
Weston, M. A.
Symonds, M. R. E.
Glover, H. K.
Journal name Austral ecology
Volume number 38
Issue number 5
Start page 516
End page 522
Total pages 7
Publisher Wiley - Blackwell Publishing Asia
Place of publication Richmond, Vic.
Publication date 2013-08
ISSN 1442-9985
1442-9993
Keyword(s) brain size
flight initiation distance
phylogenetic generalized least squares regression
shorebird
Summary The ability of birds to perceive, assess and appropriately respond to the presence of relatively novel threats is important to their survival. We hypothesized that the cognitive capacity of birds will influence their ability for accurate response to novelty. We used brain volume as a surrogate for cognitive capacity and postulated that larger brained birds would moderate their responses when presented with a benign, frequently occurring stimulus, such as a person, because they would habituate more readily. We conducted phylogenetic generalized least square regression to investigate the relationship between brain volume and flight initiation distance (FID; the distance to which a bird can be approached before initiating escape behaviour), while controlling for confounding factors including body size (body mass and wing length) and migration status. We compared seven different models using combinations of these parameters using Akaike's information criterion to determine the best approximating model(s) explaining FID. The two best-supported models included only wing length and only body mass with Akaike weights of 0.396 and 0.311 respectively. No model including brain volume had an Akaike weight greater than 0.083 and brain volume was poorly correlated with FID in models after controlling for body mass. Thus, brain volume does not appear to strongly relate to bravery among these shorebirds.
Language eng
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis
060809 Vertebrate Biology
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30046992

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: School of Life and Environmental Sciences
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