Being Hefty Has Its Perks; Application of Bergmann's Rule and Allen's Rule

Austin Michael Foxworth, Margaret Elizabeth Gaston, Michael Cobbs


Bergmann’s rule states that species from cooler climates tend to have a smaller surface area to volume ratio than that of species of the same animal in warmer climates (Bergmann, 1847, as cited in Meiri and Dayan, 2003).  Using Bergmann’s rule, we intend to explore the validity of the rule and support it with evidence that difference in body size within a species of an animal has correlation with the climate in which the organism lives. Previous studies have failed to address why badgers are shaped differently according to the climate of their environment. We performed an experiment that follows Bergmann’s rule and were able to support this idea by heating clay models of different surface area to volume ratios. We ran our tests on three different sized clay spheres by heating them up and letting them cool down within a specific time frame, testing how each model reacts to the inflicted heat.  In this study, there is evidence that larger species (or animals with smaller surface area to volume ratios) tend to retain heat longer but conduct heat at a slower rate than species of the same animal (or animals with larger surface area to volume ratios), thus resulting in traits that support survivability in a given environment.

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