The generality of the island rule reexamined

Shai Meiri, Tamar Dayan, Daniel Simberloff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: M.V. Lomolino and colleagues have recently reviewed the island rule in mammals and other vertebrates, claiming it is a general pattern. They have portrayed our recent analysis as weakly supporting the island rule, seeing weakness in our use of what they considered to be inadequate size indices (skulls and teeth, rather than mass or body length) and in our use of large islands. They argue that size evolution on islands points to a bauplan-specific fundamental size. We aim to test the generality of the rule and the adequacy of some of the data used to support it. Location: Insular environments world-wide. Methods: We collate and analyse data on skull sizes of carnivores and body masses of mammals in general to see whether there is a graded trend from dwarfism in large species to gigantism in smaller ones. Results: The island rule is not supported with either the carnivore or the mammal data sets. Island area does not influence size change. Main conclusions: Our results suggest that data recently advanced in support of the island rule are inadequate and that the island rule is not a general pattern for all mammals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1571-1577
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2006


  • Bauplan
  • Body mass
  • Body size evolution
  • Carnivores
  • Fundamental size
  • Geographic variation
  • Island area
  • Island rule
  • Size indices
  • Skull length


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