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Furthermore, motor diversity constitutes a proximate link between diet generalism and innovativeness. Acrobatic display behaviour is sexually selected in manakins (Pipridae) and can place high demands on many neural systems.

Comparisons between myriapod assemblages at mine sites in Upper and Lower Lusatia that had different soil and age conditions revealed that myriapods are good indicators of biological soil quality and are reliable and easy to use. Using soil sampling and subsequent heat extraction of animals, four alder stands in the wetlands of the Biebrza, Narew and Bia³owieŜa national parks, north-eastern Poland, were surveyed for millipedes and centipedes. Among 12 millipede species revealed, Xestoiulus laeticollis, Polydesmus complanatus and Craspedosoma rawlinsii occurred and predominated in all alder woods.

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The presence of saprophagous millipede species showed a clear succession in parallel with mine-site development, but there is no species with true pioneer behaviour. Centipedes – with Lamyctes emarginatus as a true pioneer – as predators behave less predictably; Geophilomorphs, hunting in the subsoil, are the last to invade. After 50 years of development of mine-site woodlands, five species of millipedes and six species of centipedes, though common in adjacent reference woodlands, had not yet colonised the mine sites.

Discussions of the evolution of intelligence have focused on monkeys and apes because of their close evolutionary relationship to humans. Other large-brained social animals, such as corvids, also understand their physical and social worlds. Here we review recent studies of tool manufacture, mental time travel, and social cognition in corvids, and suggest that complex cognition depends on a “tool kit” consisting of causal reasoning, flexibility, imagination, and prospection. Because corvids and apes share these cognitive tools, we argue that complex cognitive abilities evolved multiple times in distantly related species with vastly different brain structures in order to solve similar socioecological problems.

Innovation rate is the best predictor of borderline tool use distribution. Despite the strong concentration of true tool use cases in Corvida and Passerida, independent constrasts suggest that common ancestry is not responsible for the association between tool use and size of the neostriatum and whole brain.

The centipede fauna was very poor, altogether represented by four species, only Lithobius curtipes being shared by all sites. The myriapod communities from the swampy alder woods (Ribeso nigri Alnetum) at Biebrza and in the Bia³owieŜa Primeval Forest were mainly under the influence of fertility soil parameters (available and total phosphorus contents) while the assemblage from an alder swamp at Narew was largely affected by soil humidity. Apparently, the community from an ash-alder alluvial wood (Fraxino-Alnetum) sampled in the Bia³owieŜa Primeval Forest mostly depended on soil pH. Comparing all available information, the structure of myriapod assemblages seems to be quite similar even over distant regions in Central Europe.

We test the hypothesis that the relative sizes of the different parts of the brain (brain stem, optic lobes, cerebellum and cerebral hemispheres), measured after body size effects have been removed, are associated with differences in behaviour and ecology across bird species. Tools are traditionally defined as objects that are used as an extension of the body and held directly in the hand or mouth.

Manakin displays vary across species in terms of behavioural complexity, differing in number of unique motor elements, production of mechanical sounds, cooperation between displaying males, and construction of the display site. Historically, research emphasis has been placed on neurological specializations for vocal aspects of courtship, and less is known about the control of physical, non-vocal displays. By examining brain evolution in relation to extreme acrobatic feats such as manakin displays, we can vastly expand our knowledge of how sexual selection acts on motor behaviour.

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- October 2, 2015

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