, Volume 164, Issue 1, pp 13–23 | Cite as

Geographic and temporal correlations of mammalian size reconsidered: a resource rule

Physiological ecology - Original Paper


The tendency of mammals to increase or decrease body size with respect to geography or time depends on the abundance, availability, and size of resources. This dependency accounts for a change in mass with respect to geography, including latitude (Bergmann’s rule), a desert existence, and life on oceanic islands (the island rule), as well as in a seasonal anticipation of winter (Dehnel’s phenomenon) and a tendency for some lineages to increase in mass through time (Cope’s rule). Such a generalized pattern could be called the “resource rule,” reflecting the controlling effect of resource availability on body mass and energy expenditure. The correlation of mammalian size with geography and time reflects the impact of temperature, rainfall, and season on primary production, as well as the necessity in the case of some species to share resources with competitors. The inability of the constituent “rules” to account for all size trends often results from unique patterns of resource availability.


Bergmann’s rule Character displacement Cope’s rule Dehnel’s phenomenon Desert existence Island rule Primary production Resource abundance 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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