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Neuroecology

Dr. David Sherry
University of Western Ontario

There are many well-established correlations between the size and structure of brain areas and specific features of animal behaviour and ecology. The hippocampus of food-storing birds, polygynous rodents, and brood-parasitic birds shows variation that is associated with the behaviour and ecology of these species. The song control nuclei of birds vary with the nature of song. Many auditory, visual, and other sensory brain regions show comparable adaptive variation. Research of this kind has recently acquired the label ‘neuroecology’, a reference to its origins in the field of behavioural ecology and to the use of ideas and concepts derived from behavioural ecology. This talk will examine some of the basic concepts and discoveries in neuroecology, describe a recent critique of the field, present new research findings, and discuss the relation of neuroecology to research in behaviour and the neurosciences.