Do British birds conform to Bergmann's and Allen's rules? An analysis of body size variation with latitude for four species

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Abstract

Capsule: An analysis of body mass and wing length for four bird species shows trends broadly in line with predictions from Bergmann's and Allen's rules but with species- and sex-specific trends in terms of body size variation with latitude in Britain. Aims: To analyse body size characteristics for bird species with latitude in Britain and to test Bergmann’s and Allen’s rules (over a range of c. 740 km). Methods Body mass and wing length for four bird species (Blackbird Turdus merula, House Sparrow Passer domesticus, Robin Erithacus rubecula, and Song Thrush Turdus philomelos) were analysed using principal components regression analysis to investigate trends with latitude, longitude, or by sex and Julian day. Results: Evidence was found for latitudinal gradients in body mass for male Blackbird, female House Sparrow (both increasing in size northwards), and female Robin (decreasing in size northwards) and in wing length for female Robin and male Song Thrush (decreasing and increasing northwards, respectively). Conclusion: Trends were broadly in line with predictions from Bergmann's and Allen's rules except for Robin which had trends opposite to those expected. Differences in trends between sexes suggest a role for an interplay between natural and sexual selection with latitude that deserves further consideration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBird Study
Volume62
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2015

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Keywords

  • Britain
  • Ecogeographic rules
  • UK
  • sexual dimorphism

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