Not playing by the rules: mixed support of ecogeographic rules in an arid-adapted African ground squirrel
LaFlèche, Lauren J
Waterman, Jane M
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Body size impacts nearly all aspects of an animal’s life and can be subject to considerable variation in response to differences in climate and resource availability. We studied the impact of temperature and resource availability on arid-living Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris), relative to body size and degree of sexual dimorphism, over three locations differing in annual rainfall and temperature to test Bergmann’s rule, the resource rule and Rensch’s rule. We found that squirrels were the largest where resources were the highest and temperatures were the lowest but squirrels were similar in mass where resources were medium or low and temperatures medium and highest, partially supporting Bergmann’s rule and the resource rule. Hind-feet were the largest where resources were medium and temperatures medium and similarly small in low and high resource and high and low-temperature areas. The degree of sexual dimorphism of hind-foot and mass was constant no matter the resource abundance or temperature, suggesting no impact of resource availability or temperature on the degree of sexual dimorphism, contradicting Rensch’s rule. Our findings suggest that, while resource availability and temperature may have an impact on body size, other mechanisms may be important in limiting both body size and degree of sexual dimorphism in this species.