Does diving limit brain size in cetaceans?

Lori Marino, Daniel Sol, Kristen Toren, Louis Lefebvre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)


    We test the longstanding hypothesis, known as the dive constraint hypothesis, that the oxygenation demands of diving pose a constraint on aquatic mammal brain size. Using a sample of 23 cetacean species we examine the relationship among six different measures of relative brain size, body size, and maximum diving duration. Unlike previous tests we include body size as a covariate and perform independent contrast analyses to control for phylogeny. We show that diving does not limit brain size in cetaceans and therefore provide no support for the dive constraint hypothesis. Instead, body size is the main predictor of maximum diving duration in cetaceans. Furthermore, our findings show that it is important to conduct robust tests of evolutionary hypotheses by employing a variety of measures of the dependent variable, in this case, relative brain size. © 2006 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)413-425
    JournalMarine Mammal Science
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2006


    • Brain size
    • Cetacean
    • Diving
    • Oxygenation


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