Bats

Environmental drivers of body size in North American bats

Alston, J. M., Keinath, D. A., Willis, C. K., Lausen, C. L., O'Keefe, J. M., Tyburec, J. D., ... & Goheen, J. R.


Abstract

Bergmann’s Rule—which states that larger animals live in colder areas—is thought to influence variation in body size within species across space and time, but evidence for this claim is mixed.

In this study, we tested four competing hypotheses for spatio-temporal variation in body size within 20 bat species across North America, finding that variation in body mass across space was most consistently correlated with average annual temperature, and that variation in body mass across time was most consistently correlated with availability of resources. Climate change therefore could influence body size in animals through both changes in average temperature and changes in resource availability.

Rapid reductions in body size associated with increasing temperatures have occurred in short-lived species with many offspring per year, but these reductions may be harder to detect in longer-lived species that have fewer offspring when there are large changes in resource availability.

Recommended citation

Alston, J. M., Keinath, D. A., Willis, C. K., Lausen, C. L., O'Keefe, J. M., Tyburec, J. D., ... & Goheen, J. R. (2023). Environmental drivers of body size in North American bats. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.14287

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