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Bergmann's rule in alien birds

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Native bird species show latitudinal gradients in body size across species (Bergmann's rule), but whether or not such gradients are recapitulated in the alien distributions of bird species are unknown. Here, we test for the existence of Bergmann's rule in alien bird species worldwide, and investigate the causes of the observed patterns. Published databases were used to obtain the worldwide distributions of established alien bird populations, the locations of alien bird introductions, and bird body masses. Randomisation tests and linear models were used to assess latitudinal patterns in the body masses of introduced and established alien bird populations. Established alien bird species exhibit Bergmann's rule, but this is largely explained by where alien bird species have been introduced: latitudinal variation in the body masses of established alien bird species simply reflects latitudinal variation in the body masses of introduced species. There is some evidence that body mass is implicated in whether or not established species’ alien ranges spread towards or contract away from the Equator following establishment. However, most alien bird ranges are encompassed by the latitudinal band(s) to which the species was introduced. Bergmann's rule in alien birds is therefore a consequence of where humans have introduced different species, rather than of natural processes operating after population introduction.
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Keywords: biological invasion; body mass; latitude

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2019

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