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    ABSTRACT: When given a choice between options with uncertain outcomes, people tend to be loss averse, risk averse regarding potential gains and risk prone regarding potential losses. These features of human decision making are captured by prospect theory (PT)—a hugely influential descriptive model of choice, but one which lacks any unifying principle that might explain why such preferences exist. Recently there have been several attempts to connect PT with risk-sensitive foraging theory (RSFT), a normative framework developed by evolutionary biologists to explain how animals should choose optimally when faced with uncertain foraging options. Although this seems a promising direction, here we show that current approaches are overly simplistic and, despite their claims, they leave key features of PT unaccounted for. A common problem is the failure to appreciate the central concept of reproductive value in RSFT, which depends on the decision maker’s current state and the particular situation it faces. Reproductive value provides a common currency in which decisions can be compared in a logical way. In contrast, existing models provide no rational justification for the reference state in PT. Evolutionary approaches to understanding PT preferences must confront this basic problem.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014 · Evolution and Human Behavior
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    ABSTRACT: Animal ears are exquisitely adapted to capture sound energy and perform signal analysis. Studying the ear of the locust, we show how frequency signal analysis can be performed solely by using the structural features of the tympanum. Incident sound waves generate mechanical vibrational waves that travel across the tympanum. These waves shoal in a tsunami-like fashion, resulting in energy localization that focuses vibrations onto the mechanosensory neurons in a frequency-dependent manner. Using finite element analysis, we demonstrate that two mechanical properties of the locust tympanum, distributed thickness and tension, are necessary and sufficient to generate frequency-dependent energy localization.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Journal of The Royal Society Interface
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    ABSTRACT: Extant rhinos are the largest extant herbivores exhibiting dietary specialisations for both browse and grass. However, the adaptive value of the wear-induced tooth morphology in rhinos has not been widely studied, and data on individual cusp and tooth positions have rarely been published. We evaluated upper cheek dentition of browsing Diceros bicornis and Rhinoceros sondaicus, mixed-feeding R. unicornis and grazing Ceratotherium simum using an extended mesowear method adapted for rhinos. We included single cusp scoring (EM(R)-S) to investigate inter-cusp and inter-tooth wear patterns. In accordance with previous reports, general mesowear patterns in D. bicornis and R. sondaicus were attrition-dominated and C. simum abrasion-dominated, reflecting their respective diets. Mesowear patterns for R. unicornis were more attrition-dominated than anticipated by the grass-dominated diet, which may indicate a low intake of environmental abrasives. EM(R)-S increased differentiation power compared to classical mesowear, with significant inter-cusp and inter-tooth differences detected. In D. bicornis, the anterior cusp was consistently more abrasion-dominated than the posterior. Wear differences in cusp position may relate to morphological adaptations to dietary regimes. Heterogeneous occlusal surfaces may facilitate the comminution of heterogeneous browse, whereas uniform, broad grinding surfaces may enhance the comminution of physically more homogeneous grass. A negative tooth wear gradient was found in D. bicornis, R. sondaicus and R. unicornis, with wear patterns becoming less abrasion-dominated from premolars to molars. No such gradients were evident in C. simum which displayed a uniform wear pattern. In browsers, premolars may be exposed to higher relative grit loads, which may result in the development of wear gradients. The second premolar may also have a role in food cropping. In grazers, high absolute amounts of ingested abrasives may override other signals, leading to a uniform wear pattern and dental function along the tooth row, which could relate to the observed evolution towards homodonty.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · PLoS ONE
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