Isabella Capellini – Secrets of sleep: predators, parasites and the evolution of sleep in mammals

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

Secrets of Sleep: Predators, Parasites and the Evolution of Sleep in Mammals – Dr Isabella Capellini

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 organiSed 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.

There is a chance to meet the speaker before the talk, from 4:30pm for a relaxed meet & greet in the same venue.

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