Ostracod Body Size: Locality in Accordance with Cope’s and Bergmann’s Rules

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Tram Vo1, Rufhiline Tolosa2, Noel A. Heim2 and Jonathan Payne1, (1)Stanford University, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States, (2)Stanford University, Stanford, CA, United States
A wide range of climates exists on planet Earth, and the different kinds of life inhabiting each area vary greatly in accordance with its topography and weather conditions. The nature of each climate is in part determined by its latitude—latitudes closer to 90º suggest a colder climate while latitudes closer to 0º suggest a warmer, more tropical climate. The evolution of organisms is expected to differ in different parts of the world because environment plays such a significant role in it. In our study, we focus on the relationship between location and the extent to which the evolution of ostracod body size follows Cope’s Rule (i.e., the tendency for body size to increase over time) and Bergmann’s Rule (i.e., body size decreases with temperature) from the Ordovician to the Holocene. Using body sizes of ostracod occurrences, we explored the relationships among size, latitude and time. Modern ecosystems near the poles are more sensitive to environmental and climate change than those near the equator, we hypothesized that ostracods with latitudes closer to the poles will follow Cope’s Rule more closely. To test this hypothesis, we compared body size and latitude as well as trends of body size evolution over time in tropical, temperate and polar regions. The graphs produced showed that over different latitudes, there was a decreasing trend in the mean size of ostracods over time. This means that the evolution of ostracod body size does not follow Cope’s Rule any more in polar and temperate regions than it does in tropical regions. In fact, our data suggests that ostracods do not necessarily follow Cope’s Rule or Bergmann’s Rule at all, which concurs with a notion that has been previously brought up—the possibility that ectothermic marine organisms are exceptions to Bergmann’s Rule.