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The role of behavioural flexibility on the generation and maintenance of diversity

The role of behavioural flexibility on the generation and maintenance of diversity

Objective

Organism behaviour represents the key link between the morphology of a species and its ecological role (i.e. niche) within a community. Classic examples of species developing novel feeding behaviours to utilize previously unexploited niches (e.g. the use of sticks by Darwin’s ‘woodpecker’ finch on the Galapagos islands) suggest that variation in behavioural flexibility—and underlying differences in intelligence—may be an important diver of variation in rates of niche evolution and thus species diversification. However, because information on both species ecological niches and intelligence are generally lacking, the role of behavioural flexibility in structuring biodiversity remains unclear. Here I will use new global datasets on both brain size and foraging behaviour, available for 1000’s of avian species, alongside state of the art phylogenetic methods, to explore the role of behavioural flexibility in the generation and maintenance of species diversity. The analysis will establish the influence of intelligence on the link between morphology and the ecological niche and examine how differences in cognition impact different stages in the speciation cycle, from initiating population divergence, to driving morphological evolution, and finally in the attainment of coexistence and the completion of speciation. Through this I will develop an integrated understanding of the role of behavioural flexibility in the driving the spectacular radiation of life.
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Coordinator

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

Address

Gower Street
Wc1e 6bt London

United Kingdom

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 212 933,76

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 838998

Status

Grant agreement signed

  • Start date

    1 April 2020

  • End date

    31 March 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 212 933,76

  • EU contribution

    € 212 933,76

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON

United Kingdom