Oriol Lapiedra

Behaviour & Evolution

Comparative phylogenetics

We use pigeons and doves as a model of study to understand the evolutionary consequences of changes in behavior. We use phylogenetic comparative methods evidence for the ‘Behavioral Drive’ hypothesis that changes in ecologically relevant behaviors allow animals to colonize new ecological niches, thereby promoting evolutionary diversification in ecologically relevant morphological traits such as tarsus and tail length (Lapiedra et al. 2013,Proceedings of the Royal Society B). 


We have also used similar approaches to provide evidence for the “Cognitive Buffer” hypothesis that species in highly variable habitats have bigger brains that enable them to overcome ecological uncertainty (Sayol et al. 2017, Nature Communications) and to show that behavior-driven diversification on islands do not represent evolutionary dead-ends of evolution (Lapiedra et al. 2021, Proceedings Royal Soc. B).

Left- Transitions between eco-geographic categories with numbers next to rows indicating the mean number of transitions estimated from 1000 simmap-formatted trees and numbers within each silhouette correspond to number of species of each category.

Right- Reconstruction of each of the major five eco-geographic groups throughout the evolutionary history of Columbiformes. Each category results from the combination of the foraging niche (A: arboreal, T: terrestrial), habitat type (F: forests, O: open areas) and geographic origin (C: continent, I: island). The plotted tree corresponds to the integration of 1000 different tree reconstructions.

Lapiedra, O., Sayol, F., Garcia-Porta, J. and Sol, D., 2021. Niche shifts after island colonization spurred adaptive diversification and speciation in a cosmopolitan bird clade. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 288(1958), p.20211022.

Lapiedra, O., Sol, D., Carranza, S. and Beaulieu, J.M., 2013. Behavioural changes and the adaptive diversification of pigeons and doves. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences280(1755), p.20122893.

Sayol, F., Maspons, J., Lapiedra, O., Iwaniuk, A.N., Székely, T. and Sol, D., 2016. Environmental variation and the evolution of large brains in birds. Nature Communications, 7(1), pp.1-8.