Perception can drive evolution of observable traits, study shows

In an invited perspective published January 6, 2017, in Science, Hamilton Farris, PhD, Associate Professor-Research at LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence, finds that the key insight of an important study by Nachev, et al. is that perception can drive the evolution of observable traits. “The study integrated field and laboratory experiments with computer simulations to explain how perceptual mechanisms in a pollinator – a bat – can cause the evolution of counterintuitive traits in flowers,” notes Farris. Farris explains that understanding perceptual abilities, including the ability to notice differences in stimuli, is critical to understanding the evolution of observable traits, and proportional perception plays a key role. To be noticeable, the difference between two stimuli must not be constant, but rather proportional to its physical magnitude. Using…


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