Mammalian Biology

, Volume 75, Issue 5, pp 420–426 | Cite as

Body size of the weasel Mustela nivalis and the stoat M. erminea in Sweden

  • Yoram Yom-TovEmail author
  • Shlomith Yom-Tov
  • Anders Angerbjorn
Original Investigation


In this study we examined temporal and geographical variations in a sample of 124 skulls of the weasel Mustela nivalis and 146 skulls of the stoat M. erminea, collected in Sweden between 1959–1992 and 1913–1990, respectively.

We used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to combine the effects of latitude, longitude, year of collection, mean ambient temperature and Net Primary Productivity (NPP). The first principal component (PC1) contained latitude, ambient temperature and NPP and was significantly and positively related to male (but not female) skull size of both stoats and weasels. None of the other factors or their interactions were significantly related to skull size.

We conclude that ambient temperature, either directly through energy savings, or indirectly through improved food availability (increased NPP), had a significant effect on determining body size of male stoats and weasels in Sweden. Our results support the hypothesis that male and female of these species are affected by different selection pressures and thus react differently to changing environmental conditions.


Ambient temperature Body size Mustela nivalis Mustela erminea Net Primary Productivity (NPP) 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yoram Yom-Tov
    • 1
    Email author
  • Shlomith Yom-Tov
    • 1
  • Anders Angerbjorn
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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