Mean body sizes of amphibian species are poorly predicted by climate

Alex Slavenko*, Shai Meiri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Climate is thought to exert a strong influence on animal body sizes. We examined the relationship between amphibian body size and several climatic variables to discern which climatic variables, if any, affect amphibian size evolution. Location: Europe and North America. Methods: We assembled a dataset of mean sizes of 356 (out of 360) amphibian species in Europe, the USA and Canada, and tested how they are related to temperature, precipitation, primary productivity and seasonality. First, we examined the body size distributions of all the species inhabiting equal-area grid cells (of 96.3 km × 96.3 km) using randomizations to account for the effects of species richness. Second, we examined the relationship between mean species body size and the environmental predictors across their ranges accounting for phylogenetic effects. Results: The observed amphibian body size distributions were mostly statistically indistinguishable from distributions generated by random assignment of species to cells. Median sizes in grid cells were negatively correlated with temperature in anurans and positively in urodeles. The phylogenetic analysis revealed opposite trends in relation to temperature. In both clades most climatic variables were not associated with size and the few significant relationships were very weak. Main conclusions: Spatial patterns in amphibian body size probably reflect diversity gradients, and relationships with climate could result from spurious effects of richness patterns. The large explanatory power of richness in the grid-cell analysis, and the small explanatory power of climate in the interspecific analysis, signify that climate per se has little effect on amphibian body sizes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1254
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Amphibians
  • Bergmann's rule
  • Ectotherms
  • Europe
  • Grid-cell analysis
  • North America
  • Phylogenetic analysis
  • Size clines


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