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The role of climate factors in geographic variation in body mass and wing length in a passerine bird

发布时间:2017-05-10 浏览次数:0

Yanfeng Sun, Mo Li, Gang Song, Fumin Lei, Dongming Li* and Yuefeng Wu*

Avian Research

2017, 8:1

DOI 10.1186/s40657-016-0059-9

Abstract

Background: Geographic variation in body size is assumed to reflect adaptation to local environmental conditions. Although Bergmann’s rule is usually sufficient to explain such variation in homeotherms, some exceptions have been documented. The relationship between altitude, latitude and body size, has been well documented for some vertebrate taxa during the past decades. However, relatively little information is available on the effects of climate variables on body size in birds.

Methods: We collected the data of 267 adult Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) specimens sampled at 48 localities in China’s mainland, and further investigated the relationships between two response variables, body mass and wing length, as well as a suit of explanatory variables, i.e. altitude, latitude, mean annual temperature (MAT), annual precipitation (PRC), annual sunshine hours (SUN), average annual wind speed (WS), air pressure (AP) and relative humidity (RH).

Results: Our study showed that (1) although the sexes did not differ significantly in body mass, males had longer wings than females; (2) body mass and wing length were positively correlated with altitude but not with latitude; (3) body mass and wing length were negatively correlated with AP and RH, but not significantly correlated with WS. Body mass was positively correlated with SUN and inversely correlated with MAT. Wing length was not correlated with MAT in either sex, but was positively correlated with SUN and negatively correlated with PRC in male sparrows; (4) variation in body mass could be best explained by AP and SUN, whereas variation in wing length could be explained by RH and AP in both sexes. In addition, variation in male sparrows can be explained by SUN, WS and PRC but not in females.

Conclusions: Two different proxies of body size, body mass and wing length, correlated with same geographic factors and different climate factors. These differences may reflect selection for heat conservation in the case of body mass, and for efficient flight in the case of wing length.

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