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The significance of latitudinal variation in body size in a holarctic ant, Leptothorax acervorum

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The mean body size of workers of the holarctic ant Leptothorax acervorum increases with latitude. Workers from populations near the Polar Circle were 10% larger than workers from central Europe. This gradient does not appear to be associated with variation in colony size. According to controlled rearing experiments with brood from populations in Cape Kartesh, Karelia (67°N) and Erlangen, Germany (49.7°N), larger adult body size in boreal populations is not an epiphenomenon of slow cell growth and larger cell size at lower temperatures. Larger workers survived longer without food both at room temperature and <0°C, suggesting that selection for increased fasting endurance in boreal habitats might lead to this Bergmann's rule-like pattern in an ectothermic ant.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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