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Biogeographical patterns in the Western Palearctic: the fasting-endurance hypothesis and the status of Murphy's rule

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Abstract Aim 

In Europe, winter severity is positively correlated with longitude. We test how this climatic cline affects biogeographical patterns in Western Palearctic homeotherms. Location 

Eurasia, west of 60° longitude. Methods 

We test the effects of longitude on body size of carnivores, using cranial measurements of 2002 specimens belonging to 11 species. We test the effects of longitude on migration patterns of birds by comparing which populations of partial migrants are sedentary and which undergo winter migration. Results 

Carnivore body size does not vary consistently with longitude. Populations of partial migrants are more likely to be sedentary in western Europe and to migrate from eastern Europe than vice versa. Main conclusions 

Longitudinal patterns in climate exert a selective force on birds but do not affect carnivore size in a consistent, predictable manner. We find no support for the mechanism suggested to promote size change, namely the fasting-endurance hypothesis.

Keywords: Bird migration; Eurasia; body size; fasting endurance; geographical variation; latitude; longitude; seasonality

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel 2: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

Publication date: 2005-03-01

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