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Geographical variation in bill size across bird species provides evidence for Allen's rule

Symonds, Matthew R. E. and Tattersall, Glenn J. 2010, Geographical variation in bill size across bird species provides evidence for Allen's rule, American naturalist, vol. 176, no. 2, pp. 188-197, doi: 10.1086/653666.

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Title Geographical variation in bill size across bird species provides evidence for Allen's rule
Author(s) Symonds, Matthew R. E.ORCID iD for Symonds, Matthew R. E. orcid.org/0000-0002-9785-6045
Tattersall, Glenn J.
Journal name American naturalist
Volume number 176
Issue number 2
Start page 188
End page 197
Total pages 10
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Place of publication Chicago, Ill.
Publication date 2010-08
ISSN 0003-0147
1537-5323
Keyword(s) altitude
beak size
ecogeographical rules
latitude
temperature
thermoregulation
Summary Allen’s rule proposes that the appendages of endotherms are smaller, relative to body size, in colder climates, in order to reduce heat loss. Empirical support for Allen’s rule is mainly derived from occasional reports of geographical clines in extremity size of individual species. Interspecific evidence is restricted to two studies of leg proportions in seabirds and shorebirds. We used phylogenetic comparative analyses of 214 bird species to examine whether bird bills, significant sites of heat exchange, conform to Allen’s rule. The species comprised eight diverse taxonomic groups—toucans, African barbets, Australian parrots, estrildid finches, Canadian galliforms, penguins, gulls, and terns. Across all species, there were strongly significant relationships between bill length and both latitude and environmental temperature, with species in colder climates having significantly shorter bills. Patterns supporting Allen’s rule in relation to latitudinal or altitudinal distribution held within all groups except the finches. Evidence for a direct association with temperature was found within four groups (parrots, galliforms, penguins, and gulls). Support for Allen’s rule in leg elements was weaker, suggesting that bird bills may be more susceptible to thermoregulatory constraints generally. Our results provide the strongest comparative support yet published for Allen’s rule and demonstrate that thermoregulation has been an important factor in shaping the evolution of bird bills.
Language eng
DOI 10.1086/653666
Field of Research 060201 Behavioural Ecology
060203 Ecological Physiology
060309 Phylogeny and Comparative Analysis
Socio Economic Objective 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2010, University of Chicago Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30039073

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.