Body size of the weasel Mustela nivalis and the stoat M. erminea in Sweden
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.
KeywordsAmbient temperature Body size Mustela nivalis Mustela erminea Net Primary Productivity (NPP)
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