Fast life-histories are associated with larger brain size in killifishes

  • Will Sowersby (Creator)
  • Simon Eckerström-Liedholm (Creator)
  • Alexander Kotrschal (Creator)
  • Joacim Näslund (Creator)
  • Piotr Rowiński (Creator)
  • Alejandro Gonzalez-Voyer (Creator)
  • Björn Rogell (Creator)



The high energetic demands associated with the vertebrate brain are proposed to result in a trade-off between the pace of life-history and relative brain size. However, because both life-history and brain size also have a strong relationship with body size, any associations between the pace of life-history and relative brain size may be confounded by coevolution with body size. Studies on systems where contrasts in the pace of life-history occur without concordant contrasts in body size could therefore add to our understanding of the potential coevolution between relative brain size and life-history. Using one such system - 21 species of killifish - we employed a common garden design across two ontogenetic stages to investigate the association between relative brain size and the pace of life-history. Contrary to predictions, we found that relative brain size was larger in adult fast-living killifishes, compared to slow-living species. Although we found no differences in relative brain size between juvenile killifishes. Our results suggest that fast- and slow-living killifishes do not exhibit the predicted trade-off between brain size and life-history. Instead, fast and slow-living killifishes could differ in the ontogenetic timing of somatic vs. neural growth or inhabit environments that differ considerably in cognitive demands.
Date made available7 Jul 2021
Temporal coverage2017 - 2018


  • Biological sciences
  • life-history traits
  • annual killifish
  • Coevolution
  • Life History Evolution

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