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Am Nat. 2009 Dec;174(6):912-8. doi: 10.1086/646606.

Do speciation rates drive rates of body size evolution in mammals?

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, SE-90187 Umeå, Sweden.


Recently, it has been shown with large data sets of extinct mammals that large-bodied lineages experienced higher speciation and extinction rates; with extant mammals, it has been shown that body size evolution is accelerated during speciation. Therefore, it is interesting to investigate whether mammalian body size evolution is faster in large-bodied lineages. Phylogenetic analysis assuming size-independent speciation rates suggested that the rate of body size evolution increases with body size, whereas size differences in recent sister species (that are little affected by species turnover) appear to be independent of size. This supports the hypothesis that high rates of species turnover increase the rate at which interspecific differences accumulate in large-bodied clades, whereas rates of evolution in single lineages are approximately size invariant. Similarly, these findings support the notion that mammalian body size evolution is indeed concentrated in speciation events.

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