Evol Ecol Res 18: 169-186 (2017)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

Spatial dimension of body size evolution in Pterosauria: Bergmann’s rule does not drive Cope’s rule

Fabricio Villalobos1,2, Miguel Á. Olalla-Tárraga3, Cleiber Marques Vieira4, Nicholas Diniz Mazzei5 and Luis Mauricio Bini1

1Laboratório de Ecologia Teórica e Síntese, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade  Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil,  2Laboratório de Macroecología Evolutiva, Red de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico,  3Departmento de Biología y Geología, Física y Química Inorgánica, Universidad Rey  Juan Carlos, Móstoles, Madrid, Spain,  4Laboratório de Biodiversidade do Cerrado, Universidade Estadual de Goiás, Anápolis, Brazil and  5Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade Animal, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Goiânia, Brazil

Correspondence: F. Villalobos, Laboratorio de Macroecología Evolutiva, Red de Biología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, A.C., Carretera Antigua a Coatepec 351, El Haya, 91070, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico. email: fabricio.villalobos@gmail.com


Background: Little is known about the existence or validity of ecogeographical rules – spatial patterns in biological traits – over geological time scales and in extinct clades. Some have claimed that pterosaurs, a Mesozoic clade of flying reptiles, follow Cope’s rule – the trend of increasing body size through time – yet no conclusive explanations for this rule have been provided and some explanations even converge with those about Bergmann’s rule: the tendency of species to be larger in colder environments.

Goals: Determine whether Bergmann’s rule exists in pterosaur reptiles over their evolutionary history, and discuss its potential association with Cope’s rule.

Data: Previously published morphological, phylogenetic, and geographic occurrence data of Pterosauria.

Search methods: We applied cross-species and assemblage-based approaches along with phylogenetic comparative methods as well as sister-pair comparisons to evaluate the validity of Bergmann’s rule in Pterosauria.

Conclusions: Pterosaurian body size did not follow Bergmann’s rule during the Triassic-Jurassic. But a converse Bergmann’s rule may have been present during the Cretaceous. There is no strong evidence to support an influence of Bergmann’s rule in the evolution of pterosaurian body size. Therefore, Cope’s rule in Pterosauria seems to be a mechanistically independent macroevolutionary pattern.

Keywords: body size, ecogeographical patterns, palaeomacroecology, wingspan.

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