Bergmann's rule in larval ant lions: testing the starvation resistance hypothesis


*Amy E. Arnett, Department of Environmental Programs, Unity College, 90 Quaker Hill Road, Unity, ME 04988, U.S.A. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. Body size of the ant lion Myrmeleon immaculatus follows Bergmann's rule – an increase in body size towards higher latitudes. The hypothesis that ant lion body size is larger in the north as an adaptation for starvation resistance was tested.

2. In a laboratory experiment testing starvation resistance, survivorship curves differed among 10 ant lion populations for both a starved and a fed treatment.

3. The average number of months survived by each population was correlated positively with latitude for both treatments. Across both treatments and all populations, large individuals survived longer than small individuals; however individuals from high latitudes had higher survivorship, even after factoring out variation due to initial body size.

4. These results suggest that starvation resistance may be an adaptation for coping with reduced prey availability in high latitudes. Starvation resistance may contribute to latitudinal gradients in body size of ant lions and other ectotherms.