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Data from: Intraspecific brain size variation between coexisting sunfish ecotypes


Axelrod, Caleb J.; Laberge, Frederic; Robinson, Beren W. (2018), Data from: Intraspecific brain size variation between coexisting sunfish ecotypes, Dryad, Dataset,


Variation in spatial complexity and foraging requirements between habitats can impose different cognitive demands on animals that may influence brain size. However, the relationship between ecologically-related cognitive performance and brain size is not well established. We test whether variation in relative brain size and brain region size in fish is associated with habitat use within a population of pumpkinseed sunfish composed of different ecotypes that inhabit either the structurally complex shoreline littoral habitat or simpler open-water pelagic habitat. Sunfish using the littoral habitat have on average 8.3% larger brains than those using the pelagic habitat. We found little difference in the proportional sizes of five brain regions between ecotypes. The results suggest that cognitive demands on sunfish may be reduced in the pelagic habitat given no habitat-specific differences in body condition. They also suggest that either a short divergence time or physiological processes may constrain changes to concerted, global modifications of brain size between sunfish ecotypes.

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