On the validity of Bergmann's rule

  title={On the validity of Bergmann's rule},
  author={Shai Meiri and Tamar Dayan},
  journal={Journal of Biogeography},
  • Shai MeiriT. Dayan
  • Published 1 March 2003
  • Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry
  • Journal of Biogeography
Aim We reviewed the occurrence of Bergmann's rule in birds (ninety‐four species) and mammals (149 species), using only studies where statistical significance of the results was tested. We also tested whether studies using different characters as surrogates of body size have a different tendency to conform to Bergmann's rule, whether body size and nest type (in birds) have an influence on the tendency to conform to the rule, and whether sedentary birds conform to the rule more than migratory… 

Carnivores, biases and Bergmann's rule

Analysis of patterns of correlation between skull length and geographical latitude in 44 species of carnivores indicates that the occurrence of Bergmann's rule in the Carnivora is less frequent than earlier published data suggest.

Bergmann's Rule - what's in a name?

  • Shai Meiri
  • Economics
    Global Ecology and Biogeography
  • 2010
It is argued that Bergmann's rule is a pattern that can be studied regardless of mechanism in any taxon and at any taxonomic level.

Bergmann's rule and the mammal fauna of northern North America

This work tests for the existence of Bergmann's rule in the mammals in northern North America, and investigates whether small- and large-bodied species show different spatial patterns of body size variation, and examines the adequacy of analyses to account for the spatial pattern using the residuals arising from the environmental models.

What determines conformity to Bergmann's rule?

It is suggested that species with large geographical ranges are likely to encounter significant heterogeneity in those factors that influence body size, and are thus likely to exhibit size clines, and that the spatial distribution of key resources within the species range constitutes a significant predictor of carnivore body size.

Do amphibians follow Bergmann's rule?

It is not clear whether Bergmann's rule, larger size within species in cooler areas, holds for any group of ectotherms. Data are presented and used to test whether amphibians show body-size patterns

Generalized evidence for Bergmann’s rule: body size variation in a cosmopolitan owl genus

The eco‐geographical Bergmann's rule predicts that animals have smaller body size in warmer regions than in cold environments because of thermoregulatory reasons. Although this rule has been widely

Conformity to Bergmann's rule in birds depends on nest design and migration

It is concluded that behavior can substantially modify species’ responses to environmental selection pressures, and enclosed nests and migration enable small birds to breed in colder environments than their body size would otherwise allow.

Bergmann’s rule in skull size and shape of wild vs. captive fascicularis-group macaques

Comparing the presence of Bergmann's rule in skull size and shape of wild versus captive macaques is an opportunity to investigate whether the pattern is influenced more by natural selection or developmental plasticity.

Bergmann's rule in mammals: a cross-species interspecific pattern

It is shown, in a dataset comprising 3561 mammal species from 26 orders, that while there is no significant correlation between latitude and body mass using conventional methods, this correlation is highly significant when the phylogenetic structure of the dataset is accounted for, thus supporting Bergmann's claim that the rule only applies to closely related species.

Bergmann's rule across the equator: a case study in Cerdocyon thous (Canidae).

It is possible that the observed pattern - southern populations following Bergmann's rule while northern populations reflecting the opposite - has been influenced by the events that occurred during the LGM that could have led to the differentiation of populations.



Is Bergmann’s Rule Valid for Mammals?

Broad support is found for Bergmann’s rule as a general trend for mammals; however, the analyses do not support heat conservation as the explanation.

On the Ecological Significance of Bergmann's Rule

A positive correlation of weight with latitude in homoiotherms (Bergmann's rule) cannot normally depend upon the physics of heat exchange. Most latitudinally widespread mammals in North America do

Geographic gradients in body size: a clarification of Bergmann's rule

1997 marked the sesquicentenary of the publication by Carl Bergmann of the observation that, in general, large‐bodied animal species tend to live further north than their small‐bodied relatives. This

Do amphibians follow Bergmann's rule?

It is not clear whether Bergmann's rule, larger size within species in cooler areas, holds for any group of ectotherms. Data are presented and used to test whether amphibians show body-size patterns

Bergmann's rule is invalid

If reduction in relative surface area is indeed an adaptation to conserve heat, then mammals should increase in size from south to north at rates two orders of magnitude greater than they do, and Bergmann's rule has no basis in fact or theory.


  • R. Barnett
  • Environmental Science
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1977
The general correlation of size with latitude in homeothermic animals was first noted by C. Bergmann (1847), who held that thermoregulatory factors operate to bring about size clines, and subsequent work on this subject has taken three approaches.

Why do European stoats Mustela erminea not follow Bergmann's rule?

A positive correlation was found between the frequency distribution, by size, of available prey and stoat body size in the different areas examined, and this supports the hypothesis that body size variation in the stoat, especially females, is an adjustment to regional variations in the sizes of their available prey.


  • E. Murphy
  • Environmental Science
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1985
It is proposed that minimization of maintenance energy costs on a per individual basis, and thus small size, is advantageous in equable (and predictable) environments.

Tolerance of Cold and Bergmann's Rule

As size is well known to affect the energy relations between an endotherm and its environment, one would expect that size may also influence or be related to geographic distribution. Bergmann's Rule

Comment—Bergmann's rule is invalid: a reply to V. Geist

It is concluded that Geist has confounded his data set with unrecognized multiple causality, a lack of critical analysis of biological relevance, inadequate partitioning of the data set, and misinterpretation of a physiological relationship.