Bergmann's Rule – what's in a name?



Despite the great interest it generates, the definition of Bergmann's Rule is vague and often contested. Debate focuses on whether the rule should be described in terms of pattern or process, what taxa it should apply to and what taxonomic level it should be associated with. Here I review the historical development of studies of Bergmann's Rule. I suggest that Bergmann thought that his rule should be strongest at the intra-specific level, rather than between closely related species as is usually thought. I argue that the rule is a pattern that can be studied regardless of mechanism in any taxon and at any taxonomic level.