The effect of domestication on brain size and composition in the mink (Mustela vison)



The sizes of total brain, the five fundamental brain parts, and certain telencephalic structures were measured in wild mink (Mustela vison energumenos) and ranch mink of a Dark Standard strain of the same species. By means of intraspecific allometric methods for analysing the relationship between brain weight and body weight (net carcass weight), the volumes of the brain parts were compared in both groups. In general, total brain, as well as all the parts measured, were smaller in size in ranch mink independent of body size, age, and sex, indicating that domestication has led to a decrease in size. There were differences in the amount of decrease in various brain parts. These are discussed in connection with domestication time, with comparable results obtained in other species, and with regard to the functional importance of the brain parts.