Limits...
A reassessment of Bergmann's rule in modern humans.

Foster F, Collard M - PLoS ONE (2013)

Bottom Line: It is widely accepted that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule, which holds that body size in endothermic species will increase as temperature decreases.We found that when groups from north and south of the equator were analyzed together, Bergmann's rule was supported.In the course of exploring these results further, we found that the difference between our northern and southern hemisphere subsamples is due to the limited latitudinal and temperature range in the latter subsample.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Evolutionary Studies Program and Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada.

ABSTRACT
It is widely accepted that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule, which holds that body size in endothermic species will increase as temperature decreases. However, there are reasons to question the reliability of the findings on which this consensus is based. One of these is that the main studies that have reported that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule have employed samples that contain a disproportionately large number of warm-climate and northern hemisphere groups. With this in mind, we used latitudinally-stratified and hemisphere-specific samples to re-assess the relationship between modern human body size and temperature. We found that when groups from north and south of the equator were analyzed together, Bergmann's rule was supported. However, when groups were separated by hemisphere, Bergmann's rule was only supported in the northern hemisphere. In the course of exploring these results further, we found that the difference between our northern and southern hemisphere subsamples is due to the limited latitudinal and temperature range in the latter subsample. Thus, our study suggests that modern humans do conform to Bergmann's rule but only when there are major differences in latitude and temperature among groups. Specifically, groups must span more than 50 degrees of latitude and/or more than 30°C for it to hold. This finding has important implications for work on regional variation in human body size and its relationship to temperature.

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Geographic locations of groups included in the present study.
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pone-0072269-g001: Geographic locations of groups included in the present study.

Mentions: The sample comprised 263 groups. Details of the groups are given in Supplementary Table 1. To eliminate the effects of inter-group variation in sexual dimorphism, only males were included in the sample. An effort was made to reduce the effects of recent migration by including only groups believed to have resided in their present location since 1492. A group had to be represented by at least ten individuals in order to be included in the sample. As with the samples used in previous global-scale analyses of Bergmann's rule in modern humans [7], [12], [17], a disproportionately large number of groups are from warm climates and the northern hemisphere. This can be seen in Figure 1, which shows the approximate locations of the groups in the sample. A few populations are represented more than once in the dataset. This is because an author listed more than one body mass value for a population without explanation, or because different authors provided different body masses for a population. In these cases, we assumed that the different body mass values pertain to different groups of the same population. We elected not to choose between the body mass values and to simply avoid the duplicates in the creation of the stratified subsamples.


A reassessment of Bergmann's rule in modern humans.

Foster F, Collard M - PLoS ONE (2013)

Geographic locations of groups included in the present study.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3756069&req=5

pone-0072269-g001: Geographic locations of groups included in the present study.
Mentions: The sample comprised 263 groups. Details of the groups are given in Supplementary Table 1. To eliminate the effects of inter-group variation in sexual dimorphism, only males were included in the sample. An effort was made to reduce the effects of recent migration by including only groups believed to have resided in their present location since 1492. A group had to be represented by at least ten individuals in order to be included in the sample. As with the samples used in previous global-scale analyses of Bergmann's rule in modern humans [7], [12], [17], a disproportionately large number of groups are from warm climates and the northern hemisphere. This can be seen in Figure 1, which shows the approximate locations of the groups in the sample. A few populations are represented more than once in the dataset. This is because an author listed more than one body mass value for a population without explanation, or because different authors provided different body masses for a population. In these cases, we assumed that the different body mass values pertain to different groups of the same population. We elected not to choose between the body mass values and to simply avoid the duplicates in the creation of the stratified subsamples.

Bottom Line: It is widely accepted that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule, which holds that body size in endothermic species will increase as temperature decreases.We found that when groups from north and south of the equator were analyzed together, Bergmann's rule was supported.In the course of exploring these results further, we found that the difference between our northern and southern hemisphere subsamples is due to the limited latitudinal and temperature range in the latter subsample.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Human Evolutionary Studies Program and Department of Archaeology, Simon Fraser University, BC, Canada.

ABSTRACT
It is widely accepted that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule, which holds that body size in endothermic species will increase as temperature decreases. However, there are reasons to question the reliability of the findings on which this consensus is based. One of these is that the main studies that have reported that modern humans conform to Bergmann's rule have employed samples that contain a disproportionately large number of warm-climate and northern hemisphere groups. With this in mind, we used latitudinally-stratified and hemisphere-specific samples to re-assess the relationship between modern human body size and temperature. We found that when groups from north and south of the equator were analyzed together, Bergmann's rule was supported. However, when groups were separated by hemisphere, Bergmann's rule was only supported in the northern hemisphere. In the course of exploring these results further, we found that the difference between our northern and southern hemisphere subsamples is due to the limited latitudinal and temperature range in the latter subsample. Thus, our study suggests that modern humans do conform to Bergmann's rule but only when there are major differences in latitude and temperature among groups. Specifically, groups must span more than 50 degrees of latitude and/or more than 30°C for it to hold. This finding has important implications for work on regional variation in human body size and its relationship to temperature.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus