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Animal Innovation$
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Simon M. Reader and Kevin N. Laland

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780198526223

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198526223.001.0001

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Environmental Variability and Primate Behavioural Flexibility

Environmental Variability and Primate Behavioural Flexibility

(p.83) Chapter 4 Environmental Variability and Primate Behavioural Flexibility
Animal Innovation

Simon M. Reader

Katharine MacDonald

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the notions that behavioural flexibility can be a useful comparative concept, that innovation frequency is an appropriate measure of behavioural flexibility, and that the reported frequency of novel behaviour is a valid indicator of the ‘innovativeness’ of a species or population. It suggests that innovation can be used to gauge species differences in behavioural flexibility, and demonstrate that innovation frequency correlates with relative brain size in primates. In the past, hypotheses regarding the ecological causes and consequences of enhanced behavioural flexibility have tended to use brain size as a proxy measure. It discusses the utility of brain size measures for these purposes, and notes how innovation frequency may provide a more direct measure of behavioural flexibility. The chapter explores the links between innovation and brain evolution, problems and solutions for comparative methods, and discusses what further data would be helpful for testing these ideas. The chapter further examines the evolutionary causes and consequences of innovative capacities and enhanced brain size in primates.

Keywords:   behavioural flexibility, innovation frequency, novel behaviour, brain size, proxy measure

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