, Volume 67, Issue 4, pp 540–554 | Cite as

Carnivore body size: Ecological and taxonomic correlates

  • John L. Gittleman
Original Papers


Variation in body size (weight) is examined across the order Carnivora in relation to taxonomy (phylogeny), latitude, habitat, zonation, activity cycle, diet, prey size, and prey diversity. Significant differences in body weight are observed with respect to family membership. Some of these differences may be explained by phylogenetic history and/or dietary effects. Body weight is not correlated with habitat, zonation, activity cycle or latitudinal gradients. Significant differences in body weight are found among insectivorous, herbivorous and carnivorous species, and some of these differences may relate to energetic constraints. Among predatory carnivores, prey size and diversity increases with body weight. The adaptive significance, both intra- and inter-specifically, of prey characteristics (size, availability, diversity) and carnivore body weight qualities (strength, endurance, hunting technique) is discussed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • John L. Gittleman
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SussexBrightonU.K.
  2. 2.Department of Zoological Research, National Zoological ParkSmithsonian InstitutionWashington, DCUSA

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