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Evolution. 2008 Feb;62(2):413-20. Epub 2007 Nov 12.

Amphibians do not follow Bergmann's rule.

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Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011, USA.


The tendency for organisms to be larger in cooler climates (Bergmann's rule) is widely observed in endotherms, and has been reputed to apply to some ectotherms including amphibians. However, recent reports provide conflicting support for the pattern, questioning whether Bergmann's clines are generally present in amphibians. In this study, we measured 96,996 adult Plethodon from 3974 populations to test for the presence of Bergmann's clines in these salamanders. Only three Plethodon species exhibited a significant negative correlation between body size and temperature consistent with Bergmann's rule, whereas 37 of 40 species did not display a pattern consistent with this prediction. Further, a phylogenetic comparative analysis found no relationship between body size and temperature among species. A meta-analysis combining our data with the available data for other amphibian species revealed no support for Bergmann's rule at the genus (Plethodon), order (Caudata), or class (Amphibia) levels. Our findings strongly suggest that negative thermal body size clines are not common in amphibians, and we conclude that Bergmann's rule is not generally applicable to these taxa. Thus, evolutionary explanations of Bergmann's clines in other tetrapods need not account for unique life-history attributes of amphibians.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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