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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 31;103(5):1347-52. Epub 2006 Jan 23.

Climate change, body size evolution, and Cope's Rule in deep-sea ostracodes.

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  • 1Department of Paleobiology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA.


Causes of macroevolutionary trends in body size, such as Cope's Rule, the tendency of body size to increase over time, remain poorly understood. We used size measurements from Cenozoic populations of the ostracode genus Poseidonamicus, in conjunction with phylogeny and paleotemperature estimates, to show that climatic cooling leads to significant increases in body size, both overall and within individual lineages. The magnitude of size increase due to Cenozoic cooling is consistent with temperature-size relationships in geographically separated modern populations (Bergmann's Rule). Thus population-level phenotypic evolution in response to climate change can be an important determinant of macroevolutionary trends in body size.

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