Alexander Kotrschal

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The large variation in brain size that exists in the animal kingdom has been suggested to have evolved through the balance between selective advantages of greater cognitive ability and the prohibitively high energy demands of a larger brain (the "expensive-tissue hypothesis"). Despite over a century of research on the evolution of brain size, empirical(More)
Animal personalities range from individuals that are shy, cautious, and easily stressed (a "reactive" personality type) to individuals that are bold, innovative, and quick to learn novel tasks, but also prone to routine formation (a "proactive" personality type). Although personality differences should have important consequences for fitness, their(More)
unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Brain size varies dramatically among vertebrates, and selection for increased cognitive abilities is thought to be the key force underlying the evolution of a large brain. Indeed, numerous comparative studies suggest positive relationships between(More)
Selection pressures that act differently on males and females produce numerous differences between the sexes in morphology and behaviour. However, apart from the controversial report that males have slightly heavier brains than females in humans, evidence for substantial sexual dimorphism in brain size is scarce. This apparent sexual uniformity is(More)
Brain size is an energetically costly trait to develop and maintain. Investments into other costly aspects of an organism's biology may therefore place important constraints on brain size evolution. Sexual traits are often costly and could therefore be traded off against neural investment. However, brain size may itself be under sexual selection through(More)
The vertebrate brain is a remarkably plastic organ, which responds quickly to environmental changes. However, to date, studies investigating plasticity in brain morphology have focused mostly on the physical properties of the surrounding environment, and little is known about brain plasticity in response to the social environment. Moreover, sex differences(More)
Flexible or innovative behavior is advantageous, especially when animals are exposed to frequent and unpredictable environmental perturbations. Improved cognitive abilities can help animals to respond quickly and adequately to environmental dynamics, and therefore changing environments may select for higher cognitive abilities. Increased cognitive abilities(More)
Transgenic and wild-type individual coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch were reared in hatchery and near-natural stream conditions and their brain and structure sizes were determined. Animals reared in the hatchery grew larger and developed larger brains, both absolutely and when controlling for body size. In both environments, transgenics developed relatively(More)
Social animals can greatly benefit from well-developed social skills. Because the frequency and diversity of social interactions often increase with the size of social groups, the benefits of advanced social skills can be expected to increase with group size. Variation in social skills often arises during ontogeny, depending on early social experience.(More)
1. Nutrition is a potent mediator of developmental plasticity. If food is scarce, developing organisms may invest into growth to outgrow size-dependent mortality (short-term benefit) and/or into an efficient digestion system (long-term benefit). 2. We investigated this potential trade-off, by determining the influence of food availability on juvenile body(More)