Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

When is a trait an adaptation?

Sergio M. Pellis a1
a1 Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta 3M4 T1K, Canada [email protected]


The authors outline research strategies that may identify the possible adaptive value of a trait. But this does not solve the problem of how to decide which characteristics of living organisms require an adaptive explanation. I suggest that knowledge of the ontogenetic and phylogenetic construction of a trait facilitates the identification of features that may have been acted on by natural selection.