RRC ID 77777
Author Lanuza JB, Collado MÁ, Sayol F, Sol D, Bartomeus I.
Title Brain size predicts bees' tolerance to urban environments.
Journal Biol Lett
Abstract The rapid conversion of natural habitats to anthropogenic landscapes is threatening insect pollinators worldwide, raising concern regarding the negative consequences on their fundamental role as plant pollinators. However, not all pollinators are negatively affected by habitat conversion, as certain species find appropriate resources in anthropogenic landscapes to persist and proliferate. The reason why some species tolerate anthropogenic environments while most find them inhospitable remains poorly understood. The cognitive buffer hypothesis, widely supported in vertebrates but untested in insects, offers a potential explanation. This theory suggests that species with larger brains have enhanced behavioural plasticity, enabling them to confront and adapt to novel challenges. To investigate this hypothesis in insects, we measured brain size for 89 bee species, and evaluated their association with the degree of habitat occupancy. Our analyses revealed that bee species mainly found in urban habitats had larger brains relative to their body size than those that tend to occur in forested or agricultural habitats. Additionally, urban bees exhibited larger body sizes and, consequently, larger absolute brain sizes. Our results provide the first empirical support for the cognitive buffer hypothesis in invertebrates, suggesting that a large brain in bees could confer behavioural advantages to tolerate urban environments.
Volume 19(11)
Pages 20230296
Published 2023-11-29
DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2023.0296
PMID 38016644
PMC PMC10684341
MeSH Agriculture Animals Bees Ecosystem* Forests* Insecta Organ Size Pollination
IF 2.869
GBIF Hymenoptera specimen database of Kyushu University The Masayo Kato Insect Collection (Hymenoptera) of The University Museum, The University of Tokyo Insect specimens of Hokkaido University Hymenoptera collection of National Museum of Nature and Science