Body sizes of carnivores commensal with humans have increased over the past 50 years

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1. Improved nutrition may cause an increase in body size in animals, while increased ambient temperature may result in a decrease in body size, as expected from Bergmann's rule. In Israel, during the last 50 years both food availability for animals commensal with humans and ambient temperature have increased. 2. Using museum data, temporal changes in body size of five species of carnivorous mammals commensal with humans were examined. 3. An increase in body length was found in four species, and appears to be related to improved nutrition owing to a substantial increase in the amount of garbage and agricultural crops available to commensal mammals that has occurred since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. 4. The larger species were more affected than the smaller ones, apparently because of their higher position in the feeding hierarchy or because of having larger home ranges. 5. The increases are convergent with the increase in human body height observed during the past two centuries. 6. These changes illustrate the fast rate of animal response to changing environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-327
Number of pages5
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2003


  • Body length
  • Body weight
  • Commensals
  • Israel


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