Plateau zokors on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau follow Bergmann's rule latitudinally, but not altitudinally

Tongzuo Zhang, Eviatar Nevo, Lizhou Tang, Jianping Su, Gonghua Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the first description of the Bergmann's rule, body size clines along environmental gradients have been examined in a wide variety of taxa. Broad support for Bergmann's rule has been found for endotherms and even ectotherms; many species, however, do not follow Bergmann's rule or the converse to Bergmann's rule. We tested the relationship between body size (body weight (BW), body length (BL), and 12 skull size measurements) of a typical subterranean rodent plateau zokor (Eospalax baileyi) collected from different geographic localities and two geographic variables (latitude and altitude) as well as some environmental factors that usually change with geographical gradients on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. A total of 523 (212 males and 311 females) adult individuals from 21 sampling sites were analyzed. The results indicated that body size of both males and females was positively correlated with latitude, annual temperature (AT), and annual net primary production (ANPP) and negatively correlated with altitude and annual precipitation (AP). These results indicated that the plateau zokor latitudinally followed Bergmann's rule but altitudinally followed the converse to Bergmann's rule. The environmental factors which may influence the zokors' water balance and food availability were the major driving forces latitudinally and altitudinally shaping the body size of this species, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-112
Number of pages5
JournalMammalian Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Training Qualified People Plan “Hope of the West China” of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Ministry of Personnel of China (No. O954021211 ), the General Programs of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 30970366 ) and the Knowledge Innovation Program of the CAS , Grant No. KSCX2-YW-Z-1020 . We thank Doctor Avigdor Beiles for his valuable comments on the manuscript. We also thank Robin Permut for her assistance in editing.


  • Body size
  • Eospalax baileyi
  • Food availability
  • Subterranean rodent
  • Water balance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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