Latitudinal variation in litter size of polar bears: ecology or methodology?
- Cite this article as:
- Derocher, A. Polar Biol (1999) 22: 350. doi:10.1007/s003000050428
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I used data reported in the scientific literature to examine latitudinal variation in litter size of polar bears in 18 different populations. No relationship was found between litter size and latitude using non-weighted regression. Regression weighted by sample size indicated a negative relationship with latitude. However, sampling biases caused by latitudinal differences in the timing of sampling and cub mortality after den emergence could produce a latitudinal cline. Stratifying analyses by sampling area, at dens or away from dens, revealed no latitudinal trend in litter size. Observed differences in litter size among populations may result from variation in demography and ecosystem productivity that is not simply related to latitude. I conclude that available data do not provide support for a biologically significant latitudinal cline in polar bear litter size.