Declining body size: a third universal response to warming?

Janet Gardner, Anne Peters, Michael Kearney, Leo Joseph, Robert Heinsohn

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563 Citations (Scopus)


A recently documented correlate of anthropogenic climate change involves reductions in body size, the nature and scale of the pattern leading to suggestions of a third universal response to climate warming. Because body size affects thermoregulation and energetics, changing body size has implications for resilience in the face of climate change. A review of recent studies shows heterogeneity in the magnitude and direction of size responses, exposing a need for large-scale phylogenetically controlled comparative analyses of temporal size change. Integrative analyses of museum data combined with new theoretical models of size-dependent thermoregulatory and metabolic responses will increase both understanding of the underlying mechanisms and physiological consequences of size shifts and, therefore, the ability to predict the sensitivities of species to climate change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285 - 291
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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