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Carnivores, biases and Bergmann's rule




Studies of Bergmann's rule may encompass a non-random subsample of extant homeotherms. We examined patterns of correlation between skull length and geographical latitude in 44 species of carnivores in order to test the validity of Bergmann's rule in the Carnivora. Results were then compared to those of other studies. Significant positive correlation between skull length and latitude was found in 50% of carnivore species, while significant negative correlation was found in only 11% of species. These results indicate that the occurrence of Bergmann's rule in the Carnivora is less frequent than earlier published data suggest. Publication bias is not detected in published data. Therefore, previous studies of geographical size variation might be biased in favour of species known to follow Bergmann's rule. © 2004 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2004, 81, 579–588.