Secrets of Sleep: Predators, Parasites and the Evolution of Sleep in Mammals

Thank you all for coming to our seminars so far, they were both incredibly enjoyable events.

In case you missed it, you can now watch Dr. Mark Sutton’s talk on Digital Organisms which was held at UCL on the 24th of April and it was also our first LERN event of the season is available on our vimeo page.

We are also delighted to welcome Dr. Isabella Capellini from the University of Hull to UCL on the 3rd June at 5pm for our next evolution seminar which will be on the evolution of sleep. The speaker will be at UCL from 4:30pm and is available to chat before the talk, so let us know if you are interested in chatting with her before the talk.

Venue: Thursday 3rd June, 5pm, Medawar Building (G01 Lankester Lecture Theatre) at UCL.

It is of course free to attend and there will be a chance to chat with the speaker afterwards as we retire to a nearby pub.

Please do circulate this to anyone that might be interested!

Secrets of Sleep: Predators, Parasites and the Evolution of Sleep in Mammals

Sleep is an essential requirement for animal life. While we have a good understanding of the major proximate mechanisms controlling sleep, we know much less about the ecological constraints on sleep time and how they influence the evolution of sleep. Here we exploit the great diversity in mammalian sleep patterns to investigate questions on the role of ecological constraints in the evolution of sleep patterns. We show that ecological pressures – predation risk, sociality, parasite risk – have a much greater impact on the evolution of sleep that previously acknowledged, determining how much time species can devote to sleep. Conversely, we find no evidence in support to the idea that sleep enables energy conservation. We also investigate how sleep is organized within the activity budget of the species and show that ‘packing’ sleep needs into fewer bouts leads to greater efficiency by reducing daily sleep times. Thus, contrary to what often suggested in sleep science, ecology has a major role in driving the evolution of animal sleep patterns.