Accessibility navigation

The life history legacy of evolutionary body size change in carnivores

Webster, A. J., Gittleman, J. L. and Purvis, A. (2004) The life history legacy of evolutionary body size change in carnivores. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 17 (2). pp. 396-407. ISSN 1010-061X

Full text not archived in this repository.

It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1046/j.1420-9101.2003.00664.x


We estimate the body sizes of direct ancestors of extant carnivores, and examine selected aspects of life history as a function not only of species' current size, but also of recent changes in size. Carnivore species that have undergone marked recent evolutionary size change show life history characteristics typically associated with species closer to the ancestral body size. Thus, phyletic giants tend to mature earlier and have larger litters of smaller offspring at shorter intervals than do species of the same body size that are not phyletic giants. Phyletic dwarfs, by contrast, have slower life histories than nondwarf species of the same body size. We discuss two possible mechanisms for the legacy of recent size change: lag (in which life history variables cannot evolve as quickly as body size, leading to species having the 'wrong' life history for their body size) and body size optimization (in which life history and hence body size evolve in response to changes in energy availability); at present, we cannot distinguish between these alternatives. Our finding that recent body size changes help explain residual variation around life history allometries shows that a more dynamic view of character change enables comparative studies to make more precise predictions about species traits in the context of their evolutionary background.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:10639
Uncontrolled Keywords:allometry, ancestral states, body size, Carnivora, Cope's rule, life, history, maximum likelihood, PHYLOGENETICALLY INDEPENDENT CONTRASTS, COPES RULE, MAMMALS, PHYLOGENIES, PATTERNS, INFORMATION, STATES, MODEL

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation