Higher temperatures during development reduce body size in the zebra finch in the laboratory and in the wild

S. C. Andrew*, L. L. Hurley, M. M. Mariette, S. C. Griffith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The most commonly documented morphological response across many taxa to climatic variation across their range follows Bergmann's rule, which predicts larger body size in colder climates. In observational data from wild zebra finches breeding across a range of temperatures in the spring and summer, we show that this relationship appears to be driven by the negative effect of high temperatures during development. This idea was then experimentally tested on zebra finches breeding in temperature-controlled climates in the laboratory. These experiments confirmed that those individualso produced in a hot environment (30 °C) were smaller than those produced in cool conditions (18 °C). Our results suggest a proximate causal link between temperature and body size and suggest that a hotter climate during breeding periods could drive significant changes in morphology within and between populations. This effect could account for much of the variation in body size that drives the well-observed patterns first described by Bergmann and that is still largely attributed to selection on adult body size during cold winters. The climate-dependent developmental plasticity that we have demonstrated is an important component in understanding how endotherms may be affected by climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2156-2164
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume30
Issue number12
Early online date2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

Keywords

  • Taeniopygia guttata
  • Bergmann's rule
  • morphology
  • phenotypic plasticity

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