• Bergmann's rule;
  • body size;
  • climate;
  • community assembly;
  • geographical variation;
  • species richness;
  • taxon replacement.


Recent compilations of large-scale data bases on the geographical distributions and body sizes of animals, coupled with developments in spatial statistics, have led to renewed interest in the geographical distribution of animal body sizes and the interspecific version of Bergmann's rule. Standard practice seems to be an examination of mean body sizes within higher taxa on gridded maps, with little regard to species richness or phylogeny. However, because the frequency distribution of body sizes is typically highly skewed, average size within grid cells may differ significantly between species-rich and species-poor cells even when the median and modal sizes remain constant. Species richness influences body size patterns because species are not added to communities at random in relation to their size: areas of low diversity are characterized by a higher range of body sizes than is expected by chance. Finally, a consideration of phylogenetic structure within taxa is necessary to elucidate whether patterns in the geography of size result from turnover between or within intermediate taxonomic levels. We suggest that the highest and lowest quantiles of body size distribution be mapped in order to expose possible physiological or ecological limitations on body size.