Brain size varies dramatically between vertebrate species. Two prominent adaptive hypotheses – the Cognitive Buffer Hypothesis (CBH) and the Expensive Brain Hypothesis (EBH) – have been proposed to explain brain size evolution. The CBH assumes that brain size should increase with seasonality, as the cognitive benefits of a larger brain should help overcoming periods of food scarcity via, for example, increased behavioral flexibility. Alternatively, the EBH states that brain size should decrease with seasonality because a smaller brain confers energetic benefits in periods of food scarcity. Here, to test the two adaptive hypotheses by studying the effects of variation in temperature and growth season on variations in overall brain size and the size of specific brain regions (viz. olfactory nerves, olfactory bulbs, telencephalon, optic tectum and cerebellum) among Hylarana guentheri populations. Inconsistent with the predictions of both the EBH and the CBH, variation in temperature and growth season did not exhibit correlations with overall brain size and the size of brain regions across populations. Hence, our data do not provide support for either the EBH or the CBH to explain brain size variation in H. guentheri. Furthermore, brain size variation did not differ between males and females in this species. Our findings suggest that both the variation in temperature and growth season did not shape the variation in brain size in H. guentheri.
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