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Supplementary Material for: Food Web Structure Shapes the Morphology of Teleost Fish Brains

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posted on 24.05.2016, 00:00 by Edmunds N.B., McCann K.S., Laberge F.
Previous work showed that teleost fish brain size correlates with the flexible exploitation of habitats and predation abilities in an aquatic food web. Since it is unclear how regional brain changes contribute to these relationships, we quantitatively examined the effects of common food web attributes on the size of five brain regions in teleost fish at both within-species (plasticity or natural variation) and between-species (evolution) scales. Our results indicate that brain morphology is influenced by habitat use and trophic position, but not by the degree of littoral-pelagic habitat coupling, despite the fact that the total brain size was previously shown to increase with habitat coupling in Lake Huron. Intriguingly, the results revealed two potential evolutionary trade-offs: (i) relative olfactory bulb size increased, while relative optic tectum size decreased, across a trophic position gradient, and (ii) the telencephalon was relatively larger in fish using more littoral-based carbon, while the cerebellum was relatively larger in fish using more pelagic-based carbon. Additionally, evidence for a within-species effect on the telencephalon was found, where it increased in size with trophic position. Collectively, these results suggest that food web structure has fundamentally contributed to the shaping of teleost brain morphology.