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Differential investment in visual and olfactory brain areas reflects behavioural choices in hawk moths

  • Anna Stöckl
  • Stanley Heinze
  • Alice Charalabidis
  • Basil El Jundi
  • Eric Warrant
  • Almut Kelber
Publishing year: 2016-05-17
Language: English
Publication/Series: Scientific Reports
Volume: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Abstract english

Nervous tissue is one of the most metabolically expensive animal tissues, thus evolutionary investments that result in enlarged brain regions should also result in improved behavioural performance. Indeed, large-scale comparative studies in vertebrates and invertebrates have successfully linked differences in brain anatomy to differences in ecology and behaviour, but their precision can be limited by the detail of the anatomical measurements, or by only measuring behaviour indirectly. Therefore, detailed case studies are valuable complements to these investigations, and have provided important evidence linking brain structure to function in a range of higher-order behavioural traits, such as foraging experience or aggressive behaviour. Here, we show that differences in the size of both lower and higher-order sensory brain areas reflect differences in the relative importance of these senses in the foraging choices of hawk moths, as suggested by previous anatomical work in Lepidopterans. To this end we combined anatomical and behavioural quantifications of the relative importance of vision and olfaction in two closely related hawk moth species. We conclude that differences in sensory brain volume in these hawk moths can indeed be interpreted as differences in the importance of these senses for the animal's behaviour.


  • Developmental Biology


  • Lund Vision Group
  • ISSN: 2045-2322
Stanley Heinze
E-mail: stanley [dot] heinze [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se


Functional zoology

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