Area, isolation and body size evolution in insular carnivores




Body sizes of insular mammals often differ strikingly from those of their mainland conspecifics. Small islands have reduced numbers of competitor and predator species, and more limited resources. Such reductions are believed to select for predictable changes in body sizes, with large mammals growing progressively smaller as island area decreases, while small ones grow progressively larger. Medium-sized mammals are thought to be largest on intermediate-sized islands. Increased isolation is seen as promoting insular gigantism. We searched for such patterns using a large database of insular carnivore specimens. Neither small nor large carnivores show a consistent area/body size relationship. Medium-sized carnivores are no more likely to attain large size on medium-sized islands then they are to be small there. We found no consistent patterns of body size variation in relation to isolation.