A1 Journal article (refereed)
Need for speed : short lifespan selects for increased learning ability (2019)

Liedtke, Jannis; Fromhage, Lutz (2019). Need for speed : short lifespan selects for increased learning ability. Scientific Reports, 9, 15197. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-51652-5

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Liedtke, Jannis; Fromhage, Lutz

Journal or series: Scientific Reports

eISSN: 2045-2322

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 9

Article number: 15197

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-51652-5

Research data link: https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.k0p2ngf43

Open Access: Publication published in an open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66113


It is generally assumed that an investment into cognitive abilities and their associated cost is particularly beneficial for long-lived species, as a prolonged lifespan allows to recoup the initial investment. However, ephemeral organisms possess astonishing cognitive abilities too. Invertebrates, for example, are capable of simple associative learning, reversal learning, and planning. How can this discrepancy between theory and evidence be explained? Using a simulation, we show that short lives can actually select for an increase in learning abilities. The rationale behind this is that when learning is needed to exploit otherwise inaccessible resources, one needs to learn fast in order to utilize the resources when constrained by short lifespans. And thus, increased cognitive abilities may evolve, not despite short lifespan, but because of it.

Keywords: animal behaviour; ecology; evolution

Free keywords: animal behaviour; behavioural ecology; evolution

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2020-18-08 at 13:18