Section: Evolutionary Biology
Topic: Evolution, Neuroscience

Primate sympatry shapes the evolution of their brain architecture

10.24072/pcjournal.259 - Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article no. e37.

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The main hypotheses on the evolution of animal cognition emphasise the role of conspecifics in affecting the socio-ecological environment shaping cognition. Yet, space is often simultaneously occupied by multiple species from the same ecological guild. These sympatric species can compete for food, which may thereby stimulate or hamper cognition. Considering brain size as a proxy for cognition, we tested whether species sympatry impacted the evolution of cognition in frugivorous primates. We first retraced the evolutionary history of sympatry between frugivorous primate lineages. We then fitted phylogenetic models of the evolution of the size of several brain regions in frugivorous primates, considering or not species sympatry. We found that the evolution of the whole brain or brain regions used in immediate information processing was best fitted with models not considering sympatry. By contrast, models considering species sympatry best predicted the evolution of brain regions related to long-term memory of interactions with the socio-ecological environment, with a decrease in their size the higher the sympatry. We speculate that species sympatry, by generating intense food depletion, might lead to an over-complexification of resource spatiotemporality that counteracts the benefits of high cognitive abilities and/or might drive niche partitioning and specialisation, thereby inducing lower brain region sizes. In addition, we reported that primate species in sympatry diversify more slowly. This comparative study suggests that species sympatry significantly contributes to shaping primate evolution.

Published online:
DOI: 10.24072/pcjournal.259
Type: Research article
Keywords: Brain size - Cognition - Diversification - Frugivory - Primates - Sympatry
Keywords: Brain size, Cognition, Diversification, Frugivory, Primates, Sympatry
Robira, Benjamin 1, 2; Perez-Lamarque, Benoît 3, 4

1 CEFE, Univ Montpellier, CNRS, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France
2 Eco-anthropologie (EA), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, CNRS, Université de Paris, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France
3 Institut de Biologie de l’École Normale Supérieure (IBENS), École Normale Supérieure, CNRS, INSERM, Université PSL, Paris, France
4 Institut de Systématique, Évolution, Biodiversité (ISYEB), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, EPHE, Université des Antilles, Paris, France
License: CC-BY 4.0
Copyrights: The authors retain unrestricted copyrights and publishing rights
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Robira, Benjamin; Perez-Lamarque, Benoît. Primate sympatry shapes the evolution of their brain architecture. Peer Community Journal, Volume 3 (2023), article  no. e37. doi : 10.24072/pcjournal.259.

Peer reviewed and recommended by PCI : 10.24072/pci.evolbiol.100548

Conflict of interest of the recommender and peer reviewers:
The recommender in charge of the evaluation of the article and the reviewers declared that they have no conflict of interest (as defined in the code of conduct of PCI) with the authors or with the content of the article.

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