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


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.