Don't call me bird brain

28 April 2011

Research published in Royal Society journal Biology Letters reveals that city living birds have larger brains than their rural cousins.

Scientists examined data from more than eighty avian species and discovered that birds which bred in city centres tended to have significantly larger brains than those which bred outside the cities – even when the latter spent some of the rest of their time in cities.

The authors suggest that big brained birds may be better equipped to deal with the hazards and stresses of urban living, pointing out that: “birds from relatively small-brain size lineages are exposed to greater risks as a result of urbanization.”

Increasing urbanisation worldwide is likely to have significant ramifications for biodiversity, and the authors stress that “Understanding the biological prerequisites for successful colonisation of urban habitats is key for predicting the long-term trends in biodiversity in response to human-induced environmental change.”