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Integr Comp Biol. 2013 Oct;53(4):557-70. doi: 10.1093/icb/ict075. Epub 2013 Jun 18.

The temperature size rule in arthropods: independent of macro-environmental variables but size dependent.

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School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA.


Temperature is a key factor that affects the rates of growth and development in animals, which ultimately determine body size. Although not universal, a widely documented and poorly understood pattern is the inverse relationship between the temperature at which an ectothermic animal is reared and its body size (temperature size rule [TSR]). The proximate and ultimate mechanisms for the TSR remain unclear. To explore possible explanations for the TSR, we tested for correlations between the magnitude/direction of the TSR and latitude, temperature, elevation, habitat, availability of oxygen, capacity for flight, and taxonomic grouping in 98 species/populations of arthropods. The magnitude and direction of the TSR was not correlated with any of the macro-environmental variables we examined, supporting the generality of the TSR. However, body size affected the magnitude and direction of the TSR, with smaller arthropods more likely to demonstrate a classic TSR. Considerable variation among species exists in the TSR, suggesting either strong interactions with nutrition, or selection based on microclimatic or seasonal variation not captured in classic macro-environmental variables.

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