Scientific Correspondence

Nature 399, 114-115 (13 May 1999) | doi:10.1038/20099

Polar gigantism dictated by oxygen availability

Gauthier Chapelle1 & Lloyd S. Peck2

The tendency of some animals to be larger at higher latitudes ('polar gigantism') has not been explained, although it has often been attributed to low temperature and metabolism1. Investigation of gigantism requires widely distributed taxa with extensive species representation at many well-studied sites. We have analysed length data for 1,853 species of benthic amphipod crustaceans from 12 sites worldwide, from polar to tropical and marine (continental shelf) to freshwater environments. We find that maximum potential size (MPS) is limited by oxygen availability.

  1. Institut Royal des Sciences Naturelles de Bruxelles, Rue Vautier 29, B-1000 Bruxelles, Belgium
  2. British Antarctic Survey, High Cross, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
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