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Sexually size dimorphic brains and song complexity in passerine birds

Sexually size dimorphic brains and song complexity in passerine birds

Behavioral Ecology ch- il; 16(2): 335-345

DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arh167

Neural correlates of bird song involve the volume of particular song nuclei in the brain that govern song development, production, and perception. Intra- and interspecific variation in the volume of these song nuclei are associated with overall brain size, suggesting that the integration of complex songs into the brain requires general neural augmentation. In a comparative study of passerine birds based on generalized least square models, we tested this hypothesis by exploring the interspecific relationship between overall brain size and repertoire size. We found no significant association between song complexity of males and brain size adjusted for body size. However, species in which males produced complex songs tended to have sex differences in overall brain size. This pattern became stronger when we controlled statistically for female song complexity by using sex differences in song complexity. In species with large differences in song complexity, females evolved smaller brains than did males. Our results suggest no role for the evolution of extended neural space, as reflected by total brain size, owing to song complexity. However, factors associated with sexual selection mirrored by sex differences in song complexity were related to sexual dimorphism in overall brain size.

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Accession: 012552921

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