Behavioral drive or behavioral inhibition in evolution: Subspecific diversification in holarctic passerines

Daniel Sol, D. Gray Stirling, Louis Lefebvre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    Behavioral changes have long been hypothesized to be an important driver of evolutionary diversification in animals, as they expose individuals to new environmental pressures and thus favor evolutionary divergence. There have been few empirical tests of this hypothesis, however, and the mechanisms linking behavioral changes and diversification processes remain controversial. We show here that Holarctic passerines with large brain size relative to body size, a character correlated with a high propensity for behavioral changes, generally have experienced more extensive subspecific diversification. This effect appears to be largely independent of other well-known mechanisms thought to promote diversification. As suggested by path analysis, relative brain size seems to affect diversification directly rather than indirectly through its presumed effect on range expansion, which is consistent with the original formulation of the behavioral drive hypothesis. Thus, the results support the long-held, intuitive hypothesis that behavioral changes facilitate evolutionary diversification. © 2005 The Society for the Study of Evolution. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2669-2677
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2005


    • Behavioral flexibility
    • Evolutionary diversification
    • Geographical speciation
    • Passerines
    • Subspecies


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