The role of motor diversity in foraging innovations: A cross-species comparison in urban birds

Diquelou, M.C., Griffin, A.S., Sol, D. (2016) The role of motor diversity in foraging innovations: A cross-species comparison in urban birds. Behavioral Ecology. 27: 584-591.
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Doi: 10.1093/beheco/arv190

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Testing the island effect on phenotypic diversification: Insights from the Hemidactylus geckos of the Socotra Archipelago

Garcia-Porta J., Šmíd J., Sol D., Fasola M., Carranza S. (2016) Testing the island effect on phenotypic diversification: Insights from the Hemidactylus geckos of the Socotra Archipelago. Scientific Reports. 6: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1038/srep23729

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Island colonization is often assumed to trigger extreme levels of phenotypic diversification. Yet, empirical evidence suggests that it does not always so. In this study we test this hypothesis using a completely sampled mainland-island system, the arid clade of Hemidactylus, a group of geckos mainly distributed across Africa, Arabia and the Socotra Archipelago. To such purpose, we generated a new molecular phylogeny of the group on which we mapped body size and head proportions. We then explored whether island and continental taxa shared the same morphospace and differed in their disparities and tempos of evolution. Insular species produced the most extreme sizes of the radiation, involving accelerated rates of evolution and higher disparities compared with most (but not all) of the continental groups. In contrast, head proportions exhibited constant evolutionary rates across the radiation and similar disparities in islands compared with the continent. These results, although generally consistent with the notion that islands promote high morphological disparity, reveal at the same time a complex scenario in which different traits may experience different evolutionary patterns in the same mainland-island system and continental groups do not always present low levels of morphological diversification compared to insular groups.

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Relative brain size and its relation with the associative pallium in birds

Sayol F., Lefebvre L., Sol D. (2016) Relative brain size and its relation with the associative pallium in birds. Brain, Behavior and Evolution. 87: 69-77.
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Doi: 10.1159/000444670

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Despite growing interest in the evolution of enlarged brains, the biological significance of brain size variation remains controversial. Much of the controversy is over the extent to which brain structures have evolved independently of each other (mosaic evolution) or in a coordinated way (concerted evolution). If larger brains have evolved by the increase of different brain regions in different species, it follows that comparisons of the whole brain might be biologically meaningless. Such an argument has been used to criticize comparative attempts to explain the existing variation in whole-brain size among species. Here, we show that pallium areas associated with domain-general cognition represent a large fraction of the entire brain, are disproportionally larger in large-brained birds and accurately predict variation in the whole brain when allometric effects are appropriately accounted for. While this does not question the importance of mosaic evolution, it suggests that examining specialized, small areas of the brain is not very helpful for understanding why some birds have evolved such large brains. Instead, the size of the whole brain reflects consistent variation in associative pallium areas and hence is functionally meaningful for comparative analyses. © 2016 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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Environmental variation and the evolution of large brains in birds

Sayol, F., Maspons, J., Lapiedra, O., Iwaniuk, A.N., Székely, T., Sol, D. (2016) Environmental variation and the evolution of large brains in birds. Nature Communications. 7: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1038/ncomms13971

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The life-history basis of behavioural innovations

Sol D., Sayol F., Ducatez S., Lefebvre L. (2016) The life-history basis of behavioural innovations. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 371: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0187

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The evolutionary origin of innovativeness remains puzzling because innovating means responding to novel or unusual problems and hence is unlikely to be selected by itself. A plausible alternative is considering innovativeness as a co-opted product of traits that have evolved for other functions yet together predispose individuals to solve problems by adopting novel behaviours. However, this raises the question of why these adaptations should evolve together in an animal. Here, we develop the argument that the adaptations enabling animals to innovate evolve together because they are jointly part of a life-history strategy for coping with environmental changes. In support of this claim, we present comparative evidence showing that in birds, (i) innovative propensity is linked to life histories that prioritize future over current reproduction, (ii) the link is in part explained by differences in brain size, and (iii) innovative propensity and life-history traits may evolve together in generalist species that frequently expose themselves to novel or unusual conditions. Combined with previous evidence, these findings suggest that innovativeness is not a specialized adaptation but more likely part of a broader general adaptive system to cope with changes in the environment. © 2016 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

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Competition, niche opportunities and the successful invasion of natural habitats

Vall-llosera, M., Llimona, F., de Cáceres, M., Sales, S., Sol, D. (2016) Competition, niche opportunities and the successful invasion of natural habitats. Biological Invasions. : 1-12.
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Doi: 10.1007/s10530-016-1246-7

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Large-brained birds suffer less oxidative damage

Vágási, C.I., Vincze, O., Pătraş, L., Osváth, G., Marton, A., Bărbos, L., Sol, D., Pap, P.L. (2016) Large-brained birds suffer less oxidative damage. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. 29: 1968-1976.
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Doi: 10.1111/jeb.12920

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